Tokyo 2021 | Japan extends emergency amid vaccine, Olympic uncertainty

Japan announced yesterday that it is extending a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other areas through March 7.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement of the one-month extension comes amid growing uncertainty over the national rollout of vaccines and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Under the state of emergency, the government has issued non-binding requests for people to avoid crowds and eating out in groups, and for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m.
New cases have declined in Tokyo and nationwide since early January, but experts say hospitals remain flooded with serious cases and that preventive measures should remain in place.
Japan has had about 400,000 coronavirus cases, including 5,800 deaths.
“We still need to keep a close watch on the situation,” health minister Norihisa Tamura said yesterday. About 80% of the cases in Japan are in the 10 prefectures under the emergency, he said.
The emergency will end Sunday as earlier planned in one prefecture, Tochigi north of Tokyo, where the situation has improved. It will remain in place in Tokyo and its neighbors Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, as well as in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka in the west and Aichi and Gifu in central Japan.
In addition to the request for bars and restaurants to close early, employers were asked to arrange for more of their staff to work from home. Additionally, the government will expand testing, officials said.
Unlike Japan’s first emergency in April and May last year, schools, gyms, theaters and shops remain open, although some stores are voluntarily closing early. MDT/AP

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