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A second state of emergency has been declared for Tokyo – here’s what that means

It's not a hard lockdown, but it will run until February 7, with bars, restaurants and more to close by 8pm

By
Lim Chee Wah
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[Update, January 7 5:45pm] Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga officially declared a state of emergency for Tokyo along with Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. Kyodo News reports the state of emergency will run from Friday January 8 until February 7.

People are strongly advised to avoid nonessential outings, especially after 8pm. Restaurants and bars are asked to stop serving alcohol by 7pm and to close by 8pm. Gyms, department stores and other 'entertainment facilities' are also covered by the 8pm closing time, but schools will remain open.

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Covid-19 cases continue to surge in Tokyo, with the metropolis registering an unprecedented 1,591 new infections just yesterday, January 6. As a result, the city’s healthcare system is straining under pressure – it’s been on a red alert since December 17 2020.

Local media have been rife with reports that Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures (Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa) will most likely go into another state of emergency soon. The Japan Times reports that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to make the declaration today.

Here’s what we can expect from this second state of emergency, although the details are still tentative at the time of writing.

  • This new state of emergency could last for a month.
  • Residents will be asked to stay home and businesses to close by 8pm. Venues should not serve alcohol past 7pm.
  • Businesses that comply with the closure request could receive financial aid.
  • As with the first state of emergency in April 2020, this is not a hard lockdown. Residents are urged to avoid going out for any non-essential reasons, but there are no legal penalties for people who choose to ignore the government’s advice.
  • Schools, apparently, will remain open.
  • Companies are asked to let their staff work from home or operate on a staggered shift rotation.

Japan’s domestic tourism subsidy programme Go to Travel is still suspended at the moment, while international travel restrictions have been tightened. Currently, new entries into Japan are prohibited, but Japanese nationals and foreign residents with valid re-entry permits are excluded from the travel ban.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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