Japan to declare virus state of emergency in Tokyo region
Japan's government will declare a coronavirus state of emergency in the greater Tokyo area on Thursday, hoping the month-long measure can bring a surging wave of infections under control, AFP reports.
The new restrictions will be far less strict than harsh lockdowns seen in other parts of the world, and will be softer even than the first state of emergency implemented in Japan last spring.
For now, it will affect Tokyo and three surrounding areas that petitioned the government to make the move, though at least one other region has already suggested it could seek to be included.
Around a quarter of Japan's population lives in the greater Tokyo area, and the region accounts for a large portion of the country's daily Covid-19 cases.
The declaration will primarily target restaurants and bars, which are being asked to stop serving alcohol by 7pm and close an hour later.
Residents of affected areas will be asked to avoid non-essential outings after 8pm and businesses will be urged to maximise teleworking, with the goal of reducing commuter traffic by 70 percent.
An official announcement is not expected until late Thursday, after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga holds consultations with the government's virus taskforce.
The emergency -- expected to last until February 7 initially -- comes with Tokyo reporting record new case numbers in recent weeks, and the infection rate and death toll rising nationwide.
Still, the outbreak in Japan remains relatively small, with just over 3,700 deaths since the country's first infection was detected in January 2020.