Tokyo has reported 2,392 new coronavirus cases today as the Japanese capital city became subject to new restrictions as part of a state of emergency.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other prefectures yesterday.
The measures are in place in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba and will remain until at least February 7.
Tokyo reported a record 2,447 daily cases of COVID-19 yesterday.
Today’s figure was lower at 2,392, but marked the second highest number of new cases to date.
Under the new restrictions, people in the affected areas will be asked to stay at home after 8pm, while restaurants, pubs and cafes which serve alcohol will close at that time.
Gyms, department stores and entertainment facilities will also be subject to limited hours, but schools will remain open.
Those who fail to comply with the restrictions will not face any form of punishment in contrast to the harsher lockdowns that have been enforced in other countries because of fears over new variants of coronavirus.
Japanese news agency Kyodo have reported Osaka and the Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures have jointly requested being placed into the state of emergency.
An official request was reportedly made to Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of daily cases reported in Japan has risen to around 7,900, while the daily death toll also hit a record of 78.
Critics have claimed Suga, who took over from Shinzō Abe as Prime Minister in September, has been too slow to enforce a state of emergency amid concern following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
The latest restrictions are also softer than those imposed by Abe when he declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic on April 7 last year – two weeks after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed until 2021.
In an address to mark the start of 2021, Suga vowed to hold a “safe and secure” Olympics in 2021 despite rising concern over the infection rate.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has also insisted Tokyo 2020 will go ahead in the event’s rescheduled slot this year.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics due to follow from August 24 to September 5.
A host of COVID-19 countermeasures, such as frequent testing and reducing the stay of competitors at the Athletes’ Village, will be in place should the Games take place.
Athletes could also be vaccinated to ensure the Games can be held safely.
Senior IOC member Richard Pound suggested prioritising athletes for the COVID-19 vaccine would be the “most realistic way” of ensuring the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games take place this year.
The IOC has expressed its commitment to having as many foreign participants as possible vaccinated for COVID-19 before Tokyo 2020.
The organisation repeatedly said it supports priority access for high-risk groups and healthcare workers.