Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is leading the government’s coronavirus response, has called on residents in the greater Tokyo area to avoid nonessential outings during the day — not just the evening — after the three-day weekend saw no change in the number of people venturing out, he said.
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the capital and in urban centers nationwide, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last week declared a monthlong state of emergency covering Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama in response to a request from their governors.
As part of the emergency declaration, people have been asked to stay home after 8 p.m. unless they have essential reasons for going out. Restaurants and bars, meanwhile, have been asked to close by 8 p.m. and stop serving alcohol an hour earlier.
Nishimura said that with temperatures falling and due to the dry winter air, transmission of the deadly virus is rising regardless of the time of day.
“Even in the daytime, the risk of infection does not change,” Nishimura said in a video posted to Twitter late Monday. “Please refrain from venturing out not just in the evening, but also during the day.”
Nishimura also reiterated the government’s goal of having 70% of the workforce work from home.
The number of commuters at major train stations in the capital on Tuesday, however, appeared similar to that of last week.
The curbs announced last week by Suga are less stringent than last year’s state of emergency, when people largely stayed home. But, as Japan approaches nearly a year since the coronavirus made it to the country’s shores, fatigue appears to be setting in — a reality reflected by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
On Tuesday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 970 new coronavirus infections, falling below four digits for the first time since Jan. 4, but also saw the number of serious cases jump by 13 to 144. More than 4,800 daily COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide a day earlier, after topping 6,000 on Sunday.
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