Tokyo Enacts ‘Quasi-emergency’ Order to Curb COVID-19 Spread Ahead of Olympics

Tokyo is under a month-long state of “quasi-emergency” ahead of the Summer Olympics as COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the country.

The restrictions go into effect on Monday, April 12 for the prefectures of Tokyo, Okinawa, and Kyoto, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has urged against all nonessential travel to and from the targeted regions, although there are no repercussions for those who do not comply.

“We’re extremely alarmed by the situation,” Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, told The Japan Times. “Although the measures target only specific areas, we’re going to implement very strong measures to contain the virus from spreading within them, as infections are rapidly becoming rampant.”

Although Tokyo has not yet announced its specific restrictions, the governor could enact curfews for bars and restaurants. Those who do not comply will be subject to a fine while those who do follow the suggestions will be given financial compensation.

Unlike a full state of emergency, these rules do not give prefecture governors the ability to order the closure of businesses.

The Tokyo area — made up of 23 central wards and six cities — will remain in its state of quasi-emergency until at least May 11. Kyoto and Okinawa will remain under the rules until May 5. The restrictions will run through Japan’s “Golden Week” holiday season from April 29 through May 5.

Tokyo reported 555 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest number reported since early February. Japan has now counted more than 490,000 coronavirus cases in total and more than 9,300 deaths, according to Reuters.

Although Japan has reported far fewer COVID-19 cases than western countries, the country is on high alert ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Earlier this week, Osaka declared a state of emergency and moved its portion of the Olympic Torch Relay into a private park, away from spectators.

More than 15,000 athletes are slated to descend upon Tokyo ahead of the start of the Olympics on July 23. Spectators from abroad have been banned from the games this year.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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