Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three nearby areas on Thursday as coronavirus cases continue to surge, hitting a daily record of 2,447 in the capital.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga issued the declaration at the government task force for the coronavirus. It lasts from Friday until Feb. 7, and centers around asking restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m. and people to stay home and not mingle in crowds.
The declaration carries no penalties. But it works as a strong request while Japan juggles to keep its economy going. Shopping malls and schools will remain open. Movie theaters, museums and other events will be asked to reduce attendance. Places that defy the request will be publicized on a list, while those that comply will be eligible for aid, according to officials.
“I am confident we can overcome this, but I must ask all of you endure a restricted life for a while longer,” Suga told reporters after the declaration. He promised more aid for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. The Japanese military is ready to help, and efforts are underway to get a vaccine approved and delivered, he added. “Please take this matter seriously as your own, to protect all precious life, your parents, your grandparents, family and friends, over generations,” Suga said.
Coronavirus cases have been surging in Japan following year-end and New Year’s holidays. Shigeru Omi, a doctor who heads the government panel on coronavirus measures, described the latest wave as “explosive,” requiring the emergency declaration. Tokyo has logged record numbers of daily cases for two straight days, after 1,591 on Wednesday. Nationwide, cases have been growing steadily by more than 5,000 a day.