With newly reported cases of coronavirus at an all time high in Tokyo, a second state of emergency has been declared for the capital along with Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. From January 8 until February 7, the city’s residents and businesses will be expected to comply with a new set of rules to keep infections from spreading further. Here are the changes the government is asking for and what this means for Tokyo.
1. Restaurants and bars will be asked to close by 8pm and stop serving alcohol by 7pm.
2. Schools will stay open. While the government has the authority to shut down schools and nurseries, educational institutions will be allowed to remain open for the time being. This means senior high school students will also sit university entrance exams in January as planned.
3. Residents are asked to stay home after 8pm. To help enforce this restriction, theme parks, museums, gyms, cinemas and other leisure facilities are also expected to close by 7pm. Some of Tokyo’s biggest attractions including Tokyo Disney Resort and Odaiba’s teamLab Borderless have announced they will close at 7pm and 5pm respectively.
4. Employees should go back to working remotely. According to Kyodo News, at a press conference on Friday January 8, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike raised concerns over the number of commuters taking the train every day. She urged companies to reduce the number of employees working in offices by 70 percent.
5. Event capacity will be limited. Capacity at stadiums and large events is expected to be capped at 50% or at a maximum of 5,000 attendees, whichever is lower, according to The Japan Times.
6. It’s not a hard lockdown. Just as with the first state of emergency declared in April, the Japanese government does not have the authority to penalise people who ignore these rules. Rather, businesses that fail to comply with the requests will be publicly named and shamed as a way to push for their cooperation. According to Bloomberg, the government is currently trying to change the law to allow them to set penalties for businesses that don’t comply.
The state of emergency was declared ahead of Coming of Age Day on January 11, a national holiday where the Japan’s 20-year-olds mark their move into adulthood, but some districts have formally cancelled their ceremonies as citizens are discouraged from going out during the three-day weekend.
Despite the current circumstances, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has remained steadfast in his plan to host the 2020 Olympic Games this summer.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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