Tokyo enters ‘short and powerful’ state of emergency as Japan races to contain Covid outbreak before Olympics begin
Japan has imposed a “short and powerful” state of emergency on Tokyo and three other areas in an attempt to bring a recent spike in Covid cases under control as the nation battles to be ready for the already delayed sports event.
The newly announced measures will come into effect on Sunday and last until May 11, with venues, such as bars and restaurants, forced to shut down temporarily and sports events only allowed to go ahead if they are held behind closed doors, according to Japan’s Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.
We absolutely have to limit the movement of people, and we have to do it decisively. We need powerful, short and focused measures.
Businesses and individuals who are found to breach the Covid restrictions risk facing strict punishments, including a fine of up to ¥500,000 ($4,648) or a sentence of up to six months in prison.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gave his blessing to the measures after they were approved by the government’s Covid task force, officials unveiling them at a press conference on Friday.
In an attempt to discourage individuals from leaving their homes unnecessarily, the Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike said that the area will turn off illuminations and neon signs, plunging the place into darkness.
This is the third time that Japan has used a state of emergency to fight rising Covid cases and, alongside the capital city, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo will be hit by the restrictions, putting a quarter of the country under lockdown measures.
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With the Olympic Games set to kick off in three months, after a one year delay caused by the pandemic, officials are seeking to reign in infections and relieve the pressure on medical facilities. Tokyo 2020’s president, Seiko Hashimoto, said that organizers aren’t considering canceling the event despite the situation in the country.
Despite Japan’s vaccination rollout now being underway, with over 1.8 million doses administered, the nation is witnessing one of the worst rises in infections since the start of the pandemic, reporting over 5,400 new infections in the past 24 hours. Throughout the pandemic, the nation of 126 million people has recorded 551,898 cases and 9,800 deaths from the virus.
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