Only three months ahead of Olympics, Japan has declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from April 25, after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Announcing the emergency till 11th May, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the step is largely intended to be short and intensive.
He said, it is to stop people from travelling and spreading the virus during Japan’s Golden Week holidays from late April through the first week of May.
This is Japan’s third state of emergency since the pandemic began and comes after a month of an earlier emergency in the Tokyo area. The measures include shutdown orders for bars, department stores, malls, theme parks, theatres and museums.
Restaurants that do not serve alcohol and public transportation services are asked to close early. Schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes. Mask-wearing, staying home and other measures for the general public remain non-mandatory requests.
Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has reported more than 550,000 coronavirus cases, including 9,805 deaths. The virus surge, fueled by a new, more contagious variant detected earlier in Britain, has spread rapidly across the country.
Amid the worries expressed by experts, the government and Olympic organisers have been insisting that the Olympic games will go ahead in July and August this year.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Motor Show has been cancelled for the first time in its 67-year history due to rising virus cases. The Show, which started in 1954 and is usually held every two years, had been scheduled in October.