Japan must step up anti-virus measures in Tokyo on Friday to limit the rapid spread of a more contagious version of the coronavirus just three months before the start of the Olympic Games in the capital, where most people have not yet been vaccinated.
Experts from a government commission have given preliminary approval to emergency measures, which will include mandatory orders in Tokyo, Kyoto in western Japan and the southern island prefecture of Okinawa. The measures, expected to be announced later Friday by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, will begin on Monday and run until early May.
The move comes less than three weeks after Tokyo emerged from a state of emergency, which included non-binding demands for business owners for shorter hours and for residents to consider basic preventive measures.
The rise of the virus in Tokyo underscores the difficulties in balancing antivirus measures and the economy.
The Suga government has been criticized for taking too slow action against viral measures for unwillingness to harm an already pandemic-affected economy. The new measures allow prefectural leaders to target specific cities and issue binding orders, which Suga says are aimed at preventing another state of emergency.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said she was concerned about the speed of the recent increase in virus cases and the possible impact of new options. On Thursday, Koike urged residents to avoid trivial travel, social distancing and other basic measures. It is also expected to issue an order to close bars and restaurants from 20:00.
Further steps will come days after the government designated Osaka for new binding antivirus measures due to a revival accused of spreading the option. Osaka announced emergency medical care after its hospitals were flooded with new cases and removed the Olympic flame relay from public roads next week.
As the quest for vaccination in Japan is still at an early stage – just over 1 million or less than 1% of the population has received their first of two shots – the tide could lead to further diversion or cancellation of related events. with the Olympics.
The inoculations began in mid-February with medical workers, and the elderly have to take pictures from next week to the end of June. The rest of the population will probably have to wait until about July, making it almost impossible for Japan to reach so-called herd immunity before the Tokyo Olympics begin on July 23.