TOKYO (AP) –on Friday declared a state of emergency to curb a rapid coronavirus resurgence, the third since the pandemic began. The measures in parts of , including Tokyo, have failed to curb infections caused by a more contagious new variant of the virus.
Here’s a look at how the state of emergency differs from previous ones, what measures are included, and whethercan control infections before the Tokyo Olympics in July.
HOW BAD IS’S SITUATION?
, with about 550,000 cases and fewer than 10,000 deaths, is better off than much of the world, though not so good compared to other places in Asia. It has not imposed any hard lockdowns. Infections briefly dipped in March but have to exceed 5,000 Wednesday. , detected earlier in Britain, is rapidly spreading among younger people in offices and classrooms, causing more serious cases, overburdening hospitals, and disrupting regular medical care. Testing remains insufficient despite calls for increased testing for new variants at elderly homes and the young.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
The latest state of emergency covers Tokyo and the western metropolises of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo, home to about a quarter of’s population of 126 million. The 17-day crisis begins Sunday and lasts until May 11, just after the end of ’s “golden week” holidays, to discourage travel. Before an expected visit to by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in mid-May, the scheduled end has led to criticism that the government is putting the Olympic schedule over people’s health.
WHAT CAN A STATE OF EMERGENCY DO?
were toughened under a law revised in February. The state of emergency now allows prefectural governors in the areas to issue binding orders for businesses to shorten hours or close in exchange for daily compensation of up to 200,000 yen ($1,850) while imposing fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,780) for violators.
WHAT WILL CHANGE FROM EARLIER MEASURES?
, bars, restaurants serving alcohol, theaters, and museums will close. Restaurants not serving alcohol and services are asked to finish early. Groceries and schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes.
WILL THE PUBLIC COMPLY?
to avoid unnecessary outings, work from home and stick to mask-wearing and other safety measures, but those are non-mandatory requests. Experts worry whether the recommendations will be followed as many people are increasingly tired of restraints and less cooperative, and they have largely ignored ongoing social distancing requests in Tokyo, since earlier this month.
HOW DOES THE EMERGENCY AFFECT THE OLYMPICS?
The surge in cases has caused a rerouting of the Olympic torch relay after its March 25 start in Fukushima.and the government have repeatedly determined to hold the July 23-Aug. 8 Games, while most of the public has supported canceling or further postponement.
WHAT ABOUT JAPAN’S VACCINATIONS?
’s inoculation campaign lags behind many countries, with imported vaccines in short supply. ‘s attempts to develop its own vaccines are still in the early stages. Inoculations started in mid-February and have covered only about 1% of the Japanese people. The rapid rise of new shortages and a slowdown of vaccinations. Some top being held without audiences or canceled in worst-case scenarios. Organizers have postponed a decision on what to do with fans until June.
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