Tokyo Enacts a Full State of Emergency Against COVID-19 Ahead of Olympics

Tokyo Enacts a Full State of Emergency Against COVID-19 Ahead of Olympics

The new 17-day emergency will begin Sunday and last until May 11.

Just three months before the scheduled start of the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese capital has been placed under a state of emergency due to a growing wave of COVID-19 cases.

 

The new 17-day emergency will begin Sunday and last until May 11, which is the end of Japan’s “Golden Week” holidays, a time of year that typically involves travel, according to The Associated Press. It affects Tokyo and the metropolitan prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo.

 

Earlier this month, Japan enacted a state of “quasi-emergency” in Tokyo, however, this new declaration will toughen those rules allowing prefectural governors to order businesses to close (with daily compensation) and fine those who violate the rules.

 

Department stores, malls, bars, restaurants with alcohol, theme parks, theatres and museums will close. Restaurants that do not serve alcohol and public transportation will close early. Grocery stores and schools will remain open, but universities have been asked to move their classes online.

 

Over the past few weeks, Japan has been fighting a third wave of rising cases. The country has reported a total of about 550,000 cases and less than 10,000 deaths. Although Japan has reported far fewer COVID-19 cases than western countries, the country is on high alert ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Critics of the state of emergency in Japan say that it is not long enough and privileges the Olympics schedule over the health of Japanese citizens. The state of emergency is scheduled to end before International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach visited Hiroshima on May 17.

 

However, Bach has said that the declaration “is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government. But it is not related to the Olympic Games. It is related to the golden week,” The AP reported.

 

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.

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

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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