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Tougher coronavirus measures were introduced in Tokyo and the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo on Sunday under a third state of emergency amid a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases.

Under the new restrictions, operators of restaurants serving alcohol and movie theaters are required to temporarily close and sports events will be held without spectators. The emergency declaration will be effective for 17 days through May 11 in a bid to curb infections during the upcoming Golden Week holidays from late April to early May.

While the state of emergency does not entail a hard lockdown of the kind some other countries have imposed and largely relies on the cooperation of the public and businesses, the measures have more teeth than the previous declaration in January.

Authorities are also asking the operators of karaoke establishments as well as tourism spots such as Tokyo Sky Tree and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka to close.

Most department stores in the designated areas are only selling food and other daily essentials.

Public transport operators such as train and bus companies have been asked to end operations earlier on weeknights, with reduced services on weekends and holidays.

While a quasi-state of emergency was designated in the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto as well as in Hyogo and six other prefectures earlier this month, the measures have been unsuccessful in bringing down coronavirus cases.

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