Amid a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus across Japan, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has raised Tokyo’s COVID-19 alert to the highest of its four levels. The governor took this step after health authorities said that COVID-19 cases had increased by more than 500 in the capital city for the first time as national health authorities have also seen an uptick in cases across the entire country.
Governor Koike spoke at a meeting of virus experts on Thursday. The governor asked citizens in the capital city to wear masks however she did not ask businesses to close early or ask companies to cancel year-end parties.
A spokesman for the Tokyo City government said that although the COVID-19 alert was being raised to its highest level, there is no plan for business or citizen lockdown measures to be implemented.
Japanese news media were quick to pounce on the spokespersons words and noted that the city government lacks the legal means to call for business or personal lockdowns; and that the city government, with citizen cooperation, has already shown that it has the ability to keep the spread of the virus under control without harsh measures.
Economists also note that Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures account for more than 30% of Japans economy and that any limitation on business activities in the Tokyo would have serious short-term, and potentially long-term repercussions for businesses across the country.
Tokyo reported 534 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday after also seeing 493 cases reported on Wednesday. Wednesday’s and now todays total, eclipse daily infection records set in August. Nationwide, 2000 new infections were reported on Wednesday, also a record.
Tokyo had lowered the alert from its highest level in September, prompting the city to end voluntary restrictions on operating hours for bars and restaurants. According to many health experts, by returning the city to a “normal status,” many people let their guard down – they stopped social distancing or wearing masks, two items that are crucial in a metropolis of more than 30 million people.