Special countermeasures likely to apply to capital’s 23 wards and Musashino, the city of Kyoto and Naha

The Japanese government will decide Friday to put Tokyo plus Kyoto and Okinawa prefectures under the novel coronavirus quasi-emergency stage following a resurgence in infection cases there.

The stage, under which powerful “priority” measures can be taken under a recently revised law, is expected to run from Monday until May 11 in Tokyo and until May 5 in Kyoto and Okinawa.

The decision will be made Friday at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus response headquarters, headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Tokyo metropolitan government is considering taking the priority measures mainly in the densely populated 23 special wards and the nearby city of Musashino, informed sources said.

The measures will likely be implemented also in Kyoto’s namesake capital in western Japan and the Okinawa capital of Naha, southernmost Japan.

Yoshihide Suga | POOL / VIA AFP-JIJI                       Yoshihide Suga| POOL Via AFP-JIJI


As part of the measures, the Tokyo metropolitan government is considering asking restaurants and bars in designated areas to move up their closing times to 8 p.m. or earlier again, as was the case under the central government’s already expired second COVID-19 state of emergency

Eating and drinking establishments in Tokyo and neighboring Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures are being asked to close by 9 p.m. after the second state of emergency ended there March 21.

On Thursday, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike asked for a quasi-emergency designation by the central government.

In response, Suga held talks with related ministers. He later told reporters that Tokyo will be placed under the quasi-emergency stage.

The central government also sees the need for powerful measures in Kyoto, a neighbor of Osaka Prefecture, where the virus is raging, and in Okinawa, where infections are spreading widely among young people.

On Monday, the central government put Osaka, neighboring Hyogo Prefecture and the northeastern prefecture of Miyagi under the quasi-emergency stage until May 5. They were the first ones to be placed under the designation.

The revised special measures law to fight infectious disease epidemics provides for powerful priority measures, such as compulsory steps, similar to those that can be taken during a state of emergency.

Restaurants and bars in the areas concerned could be fined up to ¥200,000 if they reject local authorities’ requests to reduce operating hours.

On Thursday, Koike said that highly contagious coronavirus variants are spreading in the Kansai region, which includes Osaka and Hyogo.

She warned that the situation in Tokyo could soon resemble that in Osaka, where the daily number of newly confirmed infection cases hit a record high of 905 on Thursday.

“We made the pre-emergency designation request in light of crisis management,” she said, asking residents to avoid travel to other prefectures or between urban districts, businesses to promote teleworking further and students to refrain from having welcome or other parties.

On Thursday, the Tokyo metropolitan government held a meeting to monitor the infection situation in the capital.

Participants shared the view that the situations in terms of infections and medical preparedness in Tokyo are still at their most serious levels.

An expert warned of “explosive growth in the number of infected people that exceeds the third wave of infections.”

The daily number of new infection cases in Tokyo came to 545 on Thursday after exceeding 500 for the first time in two months just on Wednesday.

The seven-day average came to 427.0 as of Thursday, up 14.7% from the level a week ago.