Shinjuku Kabukicho
Photo: Manuel Velasquez/Unsplash

Tokyo government will pay nightlife venues to close to control coronavirus

To limit cluster infections, nightlife venues in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro are being offered ¥500,000 to close temporarily

By
Kasey Furutani
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The number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases in Tokyo has been surging recently, hitting a record high of 243 cases today, Friday July 10. According to The Japan Times, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the city has also increased the number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests being done – 3,400 tests, the highest number in a single day, were administered on July 9. Coronavirus cases have been slowly increasing since the government lifted the state of emergency on May 25. In June, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government completed its reopening plan, which allowed bars and other nightlife venues to resume business.  

The recent surge in cases is due to increased testing of patrons in Tokyo’s nightlife districts of Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. The Asahi Shimbun reports that ‘277, or 37 percent, of a total of 756 cases confirmed over a week through July 8’ were in Ikebukuro and Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s entertainment district. 

To control the spread of coronavirus, which according to reports, has recently been affecting young adults in their 20s and 30s, the Tokyo government is offering ¥500,000 in emergency relief to nightlife venues that are willing to close for at least ten days. According to the Asahi Shimbun, the local governments of Toshima (Ikebukuro), Shinjuku, Ota and Chiyoda are considering implementing the metropolitan government’s subsidy system.

The Japan Times reports that Koike wants to target specific businesses involved in cluster infections in order ‘to pinpoint where the metropolitan government’s money goes instead of issuing expansive closure requests to the entire city.’ Various reports mentioned that host and hostess clubs, maid cafes and nightclubs are the target of this initiative.

So far, the national government sees no need for a second state of emergency, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Despite the increasing number of cases, Tokyo, along with the rest of the country, will also start allowing large indoor events with a maximum of 5,000 people from July 10. 

At the time of writing, there are 7,272 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tokyo. 

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