Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures emerged from the coronavirus state of emergency Monday, but things look and feel much the same as they did Sunday. People are still worried about a resurgence of the virus, while many curbs on business are still in place. Cherry blossom parties are still being discouraged in many — but not all — areas.

Tokyo issued business closure orders, as opposed to requests, last week to 27 food outlets that failed to comply with the capital’s COVID-19 countermeasures — the first such orders in Japan under a recent legal change designed to force defiant firms to shutter or pay fines, reports Ryusei Takahashi.

On Monday, the restaurant chain operator on the receiving end of 26 of those 27 orders offered its riposte: a lawsuit accusing the metropolitan government of violating the freedom of business guaranteed under the Constitution for demanding the closures. The plaintiffs are demanding damages of ¥104.

Bus tours resume after lifting of state of emergency | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Bus tours resume after lifting of state of emergency | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

Many restaurants and bars in the Tokyo area say the slight easing of business closure orders with Monday’s lifting of the emergency declaration is too little, too late — or rather, with closing time shifting from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., still too early, too late, if that makes sense.

To many experts, however, the timing of the end of the emergency and the relaxing of some curbs makes no sense at all, given that drops in reported daily coronavirus cases have flatlined or reversed course in the last week or two in Tokyo and elsewhere. Some cynical types are even suggesting the timing may be linked to Thursday’s start of the Olympic torch relay.

Monday’s (and last Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (20 or over): Tokyo 187 (175), Chiba 97 (76), Osaka 79 (67), Saitama 60 (72), Kanagawa 56 (55), Hokkaido 50 (54), Miyagi 42 (20), Aichi 31 (15), Hyogo 23 (33), Niigata 21 (11), Yamagata 21 (4). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker