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Japan gov’t eyes quasi-state of emergency in Tokyo during Olympics

14 June 2021 20:16

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - The Japanese government is considering placing Tokyo under a quasi-state of emergency during the Olympics, given that a number of health experts have expressed concern over a potential spike in COVID-19 cases, a government official said Monday, Kyodo reports.

The Olympics are due to begin on July 23, but public fears persist about a surge of coronavirus infections triggered by an influx of people into the Japanese capital and driven by more contagious variants.

Since late April, Tokyo has been under a stricter state of emergency, but it will likely end on June 20 as a fourth wave of infections has somewhat abated.

The government is now planning to switch to a quasi-emergency with smaller fines for noncompliance under which restaurants and bars will still be asked to shorten opening hours but may be allowed to serve alcohol.

Under a quasi-state of emergency, governors are allowed to impose measures in specific areas rather than entire prefectures.

A group of infectious disease experts, including Shigeru Omi, head of a government subcommittee on the virus, is expected to disclose this week the various health risks if the Olympics take place as scheduled.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will convene a task force meeting as early as Thursday to make a decision on whether to end the third state of emergency.