Tokyo wants to seek stronger viral measures in near state of emergency

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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday she would ask the central government for permission to take stronger action to tackle the coronavirus pandemic amid a near-state of emergency as concerns increase in terms of a resurgence of infections in the capital.

The measures, which are already in place in parts of Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures, are expected to call on people to refrain from traveling long distances during the Golden Week holidays from the end of April and could also see the closing times of restaurants and bars postponed. at 8 p.m. in densely populated areas.

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The move comes as Tokyo reported 545 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, a day after reporting a high of 555 in two months and less than four months before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

Coronavirus cases have been on the rise since the lifting of the state of emergency covering Tokyo on March 21. Koike expressed concern that the capital could go the Osaka route, which has been quicker to ease measures and has since seen infections reach record levels.

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Three prefectures neighboring Tokyo – Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama – could also be subject to tougher measures. Chiba Governor Toshihito Kumagai told reporters he did not consider a similar request at this time, but the situation was uncertain.

Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said the central government “will continue to closely monitor the situation and cooperate with local authorities” while listening to advice from health experts.

A legal review that went into effect in February introduced the near-state of emergency as a way to take targeted action to reduce infections while keeping the economy running as much as possible. Governors can now nominate towns and cities for stronger action, unlike full-fledged emergencies, which cover entire prefectures.

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Both are subject to fines for restaurants and bars that refuse to comply with orders to shorten opening hours, including up to 200,000 yen in the event of a near-state of emergency.

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