The government will allow the governors of all 47 prefectures to "strongly request" that residents avoid nightclubs, hostess bars and other busy downtown spots to prevent more coronavirus clusters from developing, officials said Saturday.
At present, Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures covered by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's emergency delcaration are subject to the request, which is not legally binding.
Abe voiced a need to grant that authority at a meeting on coronavirus countermeasures Saturday afternoon.
At the meeting, the government revised its basic policy on the virus so the governors of the other 40 prefectures can issue the nonbinding nightspot request in a stronger fashion.
Since the desired reduction in commuters hasn't been reached yet, Abe urged businesses to basically practice working from home.
"Should there be a need to go to work, commuters are to be reduced by at least 70 percent," Abe said. The prime minister has been calling for reducing person-to-person contact by as much as 80 percent.
While the current policy says authorities can ask the public to refrain from going out, the revision would further clarify such containment measures, though they would still likely be on a voluntary basis.
According to experts, nightclubs and hostess bars provide environments ripe for infection because customers are crammed into enclosed spaces and engage in close contact.
Contact tracing is also difficult when cluster infections arise from such venues.
For Tokyo, Osaka and the five other prefectures under the state of emergency, the basic policy dictates that government officials can "strongly" urge residents to refrain from going to restaurants and bars that offer with female companionship to men, regardless of age.
In addition to nightclubs, Tokyo has asked karaoke parlors and internet cafes to suspend business during the state of emergency.
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