The Japanese government formally declared a fourth state of emergency for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tokyo on Thursday. The state of emergency will run from next Monday, July 12 to August 22. In addition, Okinawa’s current state of emergency will continue until August 22.
Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Osaka will continue their ongoing targeted preventive measures until August 22, while Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka will end them as planned on Sunday. The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo government are deciding this evening whether to allow in-person spectators at the Olympics.
Under the new state of emergency, the government requests events to limit attendance to 50% of capacity or 5,000 people, whichever is less, and to end by 9:00 p.m. The government requests large facilities such as department stores and arcades to close by 8:00 p.m. and movie theaters to close by 9:00 p.m. — but not close completely as they did in some of the previous states of emergency. The government is offering payments in advance to dining and drinking establishments if they close by 8:00 p.m. and stop serving alcohol. (Previously, the payments came after an application process.)
Tokyo reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the 19th day in a row with more new cases than a week before. 98 of the cases are confirmed to have the L452R spike protein substitution found in recent variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 — particularly the Delta variant that is 2.5 times more contagious than the original strain. As of 6:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, Japan is reporting 2,246 new cases nationwide.
As of Tuesday, 26.35% of Japan’s total population received the first COVID-19 vaccination shot, and 15.05% received the second. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday that 27% have now received the first shot, and Japan is projecting that 40% will receive their first shot by the end of the month. The government hopes that the new state of emergency will be the last, once enough people are fully vaccinated.
The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo government still intend to hold the Tokyo Olympics, despite the majority of Japanese citizens polled wanting them to cancel, delay, or modify the games. The games were already delayed from last year and rescheduled to July 23-August 8 this year.
Japan’s first state of emergency ran from April 7 to May 6 of last year in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka. The government expanded the state of emergency to other prefectures and eventually nationwide on April 16. The government then extended the state of emergency until May 31, but eventually lifted it for most prefectures and then for the entire country six days early.
Japan’s second state of emergency ran from January 8 to February 7 of this year in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba. The government expanded the state of emergency to seven more prefectures on January 13, and extended it until February 7. The government then extended the state of emergency further in all of these prefectures except Tochigi until March 7, and extended it again in Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba until March 21.
Japan’s third state of emergency ran from April 25 to May 11 in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo. The government extended the state of emergency until May 31 and added Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures. The government added Hokkaido, Okayama, and Hiroshima prefectures on May 16, and extended the state of emergency in nine prefectures until June 20. Okinawa has been still under this state of emergency, and seven of the prefectures have maintained “targeted preventive measures” until July 11.