Tokyo prepares to host the Summer Olympics, slated to begin in July. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a third state of emergency for Tokyo and other urban prefectures: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo. It will begin Sunday and last through May 11, being linked to the spread of COVID-19. Both the governors of Tokyo and Osaka prefectures have requested the emergency status. Suga said the new measures will be “stricter” than with previous declarations and will include unspecified limitations on gatherings as well on bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses. Some businesses, particularly eateries, will be asked to shorten their hours to reduce the frequency of person-to-person contact. Shopping centers will be encouraged to close. The strictest rules will apply to places that sell alcohol or offer karaoke. “In Japan, we are entering a new phase,” Omi said, “the infections are becoming more widespread in younger populations,” said Dr. Shigeru Omi, head of the COVID-19 advisory panel.
Osaka, which has been under quasi-emergency status since April 5, is the epicenter of the country’s latest resurgence and has reported the highest daily number of newly confirmed cases than any other area. The prefecture saw 1,167 new cases on Thursday, while Tokyo reported 861. Some 5,452 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the entire country on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health. Less than 1% of Japan’s 126 million people have been vaccinated. Japan’s health ministry has authorized only one vaccine, made by Pfizer/BioNTech. Organizers of the Olympic Games have been dogged in their determination to go forward despite the public’s concerns over COVID-19. The Olympic torch relay, which has been making its way around Japan, has been rerouted away from public roads in Osaka.