• Kyodo


Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Thursday she will ask the central government for the authority to take stronger measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic under a quasi-state of emergency as worries increase about a resurgence in 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 late April and could also see closing times for restaurants and bars brought forward to 8 p.m. in densely populated areas.

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

Coronavirus cases have been creeping up since a state of emergency covering Tokyo was lifted on March 21. Koike has voiced concern the capital could go the way of Osaka, which was quicker to ease measures and has since seen infections hit record highs.

Three prefectures neighboring Tokyo — Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama — could also be subject to the stronger measures. Chiba Gov. Toshihito Kumagai told reporters he was not considering a similar request at the moment, but that the situation was touch-and-go.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the central government would "continue to closely watch the situation and cooperate with local authorities" while listening to the guidance of health experts.

A legal revision that came into effect in February introduced the quasi-state of emergency as a way to take targeted steps to bring down infections while keeping the economy going as much as possible. Governors can now designate cities and town for stronger measures, unlike full-fledged emergencies, which cover entire prefectures.

Both carry fines for restaurants and bars that refuse to comply with orders to shorten business hours, including up to ¥200,000 under the quasi-state of emergency.

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