Tokyo Asking Stores to Cut Hours as Infections Jump, Report Says

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to ask restaurants and other stores to close early as it seeks to combat a surge in coronavirus infections, according to a local media report.

The request will apply from Saturday and will call on establishments to shut at 10 p.m. for three weeks, local broadcaster TBS reported, citing an unidentified person.

The plans come a day after the largest one-day increase in serious coronavirus cases in the city on record. Severe cases, which the area defines as those on a ventilator or ECMO machine, jumped 24% to a total of 51, the highest level Tokyo has seen since the start of the pandemic. The seven-day average of coronavirus cases in Tokyo has more than doubled over two weeks to more than 400.

Just last week, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the number of severe cases, rather than sheer amount of new infections, were her “red line” that would spur further action.

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TBS didn’t identify exactly what kind of stores would be asked to close, although a similar request during a summer surge applied to stores serving alcohol, such as bars and karaoke parlors, as well as restaurants. The metropolitan government plans to offer financial support to those that follow the request, with Japanese authorities limited in the powers they have to enforce early closures or shutdowns.

Read more: Japan Eyes Tighter Virus Steps as Severe Cases in Tokyo Jump

Koike will hold a previously unscheduled press conference later on Wednesday, after the city’s virus response group meets this afternoon, TBS said.

Tokyo is just one of several metropolitan areas in Japan battling the latest surge in infections, with the northern island of Hokkaido already calling on people to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors, and Osaka moving to reduce opening hours. A popular campaign to spur domestic travel, which some have blamed for spreading infections, is also being partly suspended.

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