As Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in Tokyo and the rest of the country surge since the start of the pandemic, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared for the nation's capital and nearby areas a state of emergency. 

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Japan Declares a State of Emergency for Tokyo

From Friday until February 7, the emergency declaration will be in place and include several daily life restrictions. It applies to Tokyo and Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa, the three adjacent regions.

The residents in a state of emergency are required to avoid non-essential outings. The thoroughly hit hospitality sector is requested to shorten its operating hours with restaurants ordered to close by 8 p.m. On Thursday, Suga said that the administration would run up to 1.8 million yen or $17,400 monthly assistance to restaurants that will comply.

Due to the state of emergency, sporting events are taught to limit the number of in-person spectators.

All offices under the state of emergency, private or public, are ordered to reduce workplace populations by as much as 70% by buoying up their staff to work from home.  

But for schools, despite the raft of new measures, they will remain open. At a press conference on Thursday, Suga said, "There have been few cases of school infections spreading from schools to the community, and we would like to protect the learning opportunities of children who will lead the future." 

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Japan's Prime Minister stressed that the nation still aims to hold in July the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games despite the state of emergency. He said, "I am determined to hold safe and secure games by taking all possible measures against the infection." 

Suga has been criticized for his reluctance to fight the spread of Covid-19 until after the televised press conference last week where the Tokyo governor and three neighboring prefecture officials urged him to issue a state of emergency.

Japan reported 7,548 new cases and 66 additional deaths, a record number of daily new infections for the third day in a row. It's the first time since the pandemic began that infections have surpassed 7,000, thus the state of emergency.

Now, the nationwide tally that pushed the state of emergency stands at 266,011 cases and 3,870 fatalities. According to Tokyo metropolitan government updated figures, on Thursday, the greater Tokyo region surpassed 2,000 daily cases for the first time, recording 2,447 new infections, making it among the worst hit.

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The seriously ill Covid-19 patients in need of hospitalization also continue to grow in numbers were 121 patients in serious condition in the capital on Thursday, and more than 3,000 receiving medical care in the hospital.

Country-wide, the number of people in a severe condition rose by 13 on Wednesday to 784, with 41,054 people in hospital. In a meeting with Japan's health ministry on Wednesday, infectious disease experts called for immediate and strict measures to fight the outbreak.

National Institute of Infectious Diseases Chief Takaji Wakita said,  "Looking at the number of newly infected people in the last week, Tokyo alone accounts for a quarter of the national total. The total number in the metropolitan area, including three other prefectures, accounts for half of the total number of the whole country. It is difficult to control the outbreak in rural areas unless we can curb the spread of the virus in the metropolitan area immediately." after the meeting.