The Japanese government said on Wednesday that 13 prefectures, including Tokyo, would be placed under a quasi-state of emergency because of a rise in Omicron cases. The measure will go into effect on Friday and last through Feb. 13.
Restrictions will vary by prefecture, and may include shortening business hours and halting the sale of alcohol.
The decision comes amid a sharp rise in infections linked to the Omicron variant, hitting a record 32,197 cases nationwide on Tuesday. (The previous nationwide record, nearly 26,000 cases, was reached in August.) On Wednesday, Osaka reported more than 6,000 cases, and Tokyo hit a record 7,377 new daily cases.
Shigeru Omi, the government’s chief medical adviser, told reporters after a Covid-19 task force meeting on Wednesday that since the Omicron variant was known to spread very quickly, “it is important to take preventive measures as soon as possible and bring the infections down.”
With three of Japan’s 47 prefectures — Hiroshima, Okinawa and Yamaguchi — already under a quasi-state of emergency (the Okinawa outbreaks are linked to the U.S. military), the number of prefectures affected by the new measure increases to 16. (Japan has 47 prefectures in all.)
Nearly 80 percent of Japan’s population has received two vaccine doses, according to a New York Times database, but boosters for the general public are not widely available.