EXPLAINER: Detailing Japan's new COVID state of emergency
TOKYO (AP) — Coronavirus infection cases have reached daily records in Tokyo, which is now playing host to the Olympics. The Japanese government has declared the capital and several other regions under a “state of emergency” during the entire Games. With such a global sporting event unfolding, what does that mean? Here's a rundown.
WHAT IS JAPAN’S STATE OF EMERGENCY?
It doesn't mean a lockdown. In fact, Japan has never had a lockdown. Its “emergency” measures are centered around having bars and restaurants close early.
Under the latest emergency, extended through the end of August, serving alcohol is restricted. The measures have been widely criticized as arbitrarily targeting a sector without scientific foundation. Some establishments are ignoring requests and staying open. Theaters and clubs limit crowd size.
SO THE MEASURES AREN’T WORKING?
Some would say so. The state of emergency, Japan’s fourth, has lasted through much of this year. Some cynics are wondering how a supposed emergency has become the new normal. Although violating businesses can technically be penalized with fines, such action has been rare.
The government has urged people to stay home, socially distance and wear masks. Japan is generally an extremely orderly and conformist nation. But commuter trains are still packed, and the streets of Tokyo are bustling with throngs of mask-wearing people. Remote work isn't a viable option for many Japanese “salarymen” and “salarywomen.”
The Olympics hasn't exactly helped. With Japan on its way to possibly winning more gold medals than ever, people are flocking to sports bars to cheer for their teams en masse, and to stores to buy Olympic goods.
BUT THE GAMES MUST GO ON?
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said the recent surge in cases isn’t related to the...