Tokyo seeks stronger anti-virus steps under quasi-state of emergency

Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike on Thursday asked the central government for the authority to take stronger measures to combat COVID-19 under a quasi-state of emergency as worries increase over a resurgence in infections in the capital.
The move comes after Tokyo reported 545 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with less than four months before the Tokyo Olympics is set to begin.
Koike told reporters she would consult with the central government on how long the quasi-state of emergency would be in place but that it should cover the Golden Week holidays from late April through early May.
"Reducing the flow of people is key in preventing infections," she said.
The measures could include bringing forward closing times for restaurants and bars to 8 p.m. from 9 p.m. in densely populated areas, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Coronavirus cases have been creeping up since a state of emergency covering Tokyo was lifted on March 21. Koike has voiced concern the capital could go the way of Osaka Prefecture, which was quicker to ease measures and has since seen infections hit record highs.
Three prefectures neighboring Tokyo -- Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama -- could also be subject to the stronger measures. Chiba Gov Toshihito Kumagai told reporters he was not considering a similar request at the moment but that the situation was touch-and-go.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the central government would "continue to closely watch the situation and cooperate with local authorities" while listening to the guidance of health experts.
A legal revision that came into effect in February introduced the quasi-state of emergency as a way to take targeted steps to bring down infections while keeping the economy going as much as possible. Governors can now designate cities and towns for stronger measures, unlike the full-fledged version, which covers an entire prefecture.
Both carry fines for restaurants and bars that refuse to comply with orders to shorten business hours, up to 200,000 yen under the quasi-state of emergency.

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