Tokyo Governor Koike Restarts Request for Businesses to Limit Hours as COVID-19 Infections Rise to Record Levels
"If the situation gets worse, we have to think about issuing an emergency declaration unique to Tokyo," Koike
Yuriko Koike on July 30 (via NHK)
The recently re-elected governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, held a press conference on July 30 in response to the record level of new daily coronavirus (COVID-19) cases seen in the city and throughout Japan. Koike announced measures to reintroduce requests for businesses to limit operating hours, as well the implementation of new ordinances for businesses to follow to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and a fund to help small businesses who co-operate with the new requests.
Tokyo on July 30 announced a record 367 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total in the capital to 12,228 since records began, with 22 people overall currently in critical care. Japan as a whole had a record 1,266 new cases on July 30 as of 7 PM local time, with some prefectures not yet reporting in.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has turned its eyes on places that serve food and drink as the cause for the current wave of infections, and in turn, has asked restaurants and karaoke parlors that serve alcohol to limit their hours to 10 PM at night. Any business that responds to the request can receive 200,000 yen (US$1,900) in compensation from the government to make up for lost costs. The request starts on August 3 and is scheduled to end on August 30, depending on current new infection levels.
"Stay Home" sign in Akihabara Station (Photo: Daryl Harding)
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will also be implementing new ordinances for businesses to follow to help limit the spread of the virus in mid-August. If businesses follow these new ordinances, they will receive a special sticker that can be displayed publicly to show the business is complying with the new health and safety guidelines.
Governor Koike, in an interview with The Japan Times on July 30, said that "Revising the [New Influenza Special Measures Act] is necessary for our intended results to become reality." At the moment, the central government wields the power to force businesses to close and to limit travel, not the prefectures, who want more power to curb the spread of the coronavirus in their regions. Koike continued, "words are the only countermeasures we have here. The act of wearing a mask has become a political issue in other countries but in Japan people do so without penalty or fine.”
In the press conference later on in the day, Koike said that "in the future, if the situation gets worse, we have to think about issuing an emergency declaration unique to Tokyo. That's why now, all the citizens and businesses have to be united before it becomes a national crisis. I would like to overcome the situation together so that's why I strongly request the understanding and cooperation of each citizen in Tokyo."
If you or someone who know is living in Japan, coronavirus-based English resources are available at NHK World Japan.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.