Japan Declares New COVID State of Emergency

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This will be the country’s third state of emergency since the pandemic began.

Only three months away from the repeatedly-delayed Tokyo Olympics, Japan has been forced to declare yet another state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the third such state since the pandemic began last year. In the words of the Japanese government, the state of emergency will be “short and powerful,” and will apply to several major prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto.

“We absolutely have to limit the movement of people, and we have to do it decisively. We need powerful, short and focused measures,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

Among other restrictions, restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlors will be required to temporarily close their doors, with the same restrictions also applying to department stores, movie theaters, and other larger commercial facilities. Sporting events scheduled between April 25 and May 11 can still run, but they will not be allowed to have spectators in their stands. Anyone who violates these restrictions will face stiff penalties.

“It is feared that contagion in major cities will spread across the whole country if we take no measures,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.

This newest state of emergency has placed a large question mark on the Tokyo Olympics, though Suga, along with other Japanese lawmakers, have insisted that measures will be taken to allow the games to proceed as scheduled. However, as previously announced, the games likely will not allow in any foreign spectators. With this stipulation, as well as the fact that this new state of emergency will last through a large portion of Japan’s Golden Week holidays, local tourism industries stand to take a steep loss.

“We, as Tokyo 2020, continue to wish for the swift return to normalcy and will continue to work closely with the relevant parties to make sure a safe and secure Olympics can happen,” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told a news conference.

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