Japan begins day one under emergency measures to fight virus
Japan began its first day under a coronavirus state of emergency on Friday with much of life as usual, including morning commuter trains commuting with crowds of people wearing masks in lively stations.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated his demand for restaurants to shorten opening hours and for people to work from home.
“We take this very seriously. By all means, I would like to overcome this difficult situation with the cooperation of the people, ”Suga told reporters.
The emergency continues until February 7. The statement asks restaurants and bars to close before 8 p.m. while drinks will not be served after 7 p.m.
Also read: Japanese Prime Minister to declare viral emergency for Tokyo area
It applies to Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.
Nationwide, confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached some 260,000, with more than 7,500 new cases reported on Friday.
“The infection is the highest on record in all regions of the country,” Suga said.
Suga promised legal revisions, including allowing sanctions and other measures to add more force to the demands. They will be considered in parliament later this month.
The declaration is expected to have some influence on conformist Japan. Some companies have resisted remote working, and the state of emergency can help workers assert their wish to stay home.
But much of life will remain the same, with schools, sporting events, shops and cinemas open, but with social distancing and mask-wearing measures. Crowds should decrease at night.
The previous emergency, declared in April and May, although more extensive and widespread, had some effect in limiting the spread of Covid-19.
The number of daily cases in Tokyo rose to a daily high of 2,447 on Thursday. The goal is to bring them down to 500, officials said.
Like many other Tokyo residents, Kazue Kuramitsu was already pessimistic about how long it would take for things to get back to normal.
“As of today, we’re basically in a battle for a month. But I don’t think the spread will stop, ”she said.