Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a third state of emergency for Tokyo and three other urban prefectures in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the already-delayed Summer Olympics. Local leaders requested the move as they face a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases.
The declaration comes as Tokyo prepares to host the Summer Olympics, slated to begin in July, and just before Japan enters one of its biggest holiday seasons, Golden Week, in late April. The move was earlier endorsed by a panel of experts advising the Japanese government on COVID-19. Suga said the new measures will be “stricter” than with previous declarations and will include unspecified limitations on gatherings as well on bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses. He also mentioned subsidies for businesses that shut their doors during the state of emergency. The emergency measures stop short of a full lockdown, but they impose limits on restaurants and other businesses. The strictest rules will apply to places that sell alcohol or offer karaoke. They’ll be asked to close entirely, while many other establishments will close at 8 p.m. The new policies, which carry fines but largely rely on voluntary compliance, go into effect on Sunday and will run through at least May 11.