— Sports

Japan to raise virus steps in Tokyo, 3 months ahead of Games

TOKYO (AP) – Japan is set to strengthen anti-virus measures in Tokyo on Friday to curb the rapid spread of a more contagious coronavirus variant just three months before the Olympics begin in the capital, where most people are not yet vaccinated. Experts on a government panel gave preliminary approval to the emergency measures that would include binding orders in Tokyo, Kyoto in western Japan, and the southern island prefecture of Okinawa. The standards expected to be announced later Friday by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga would start Monday and last until early May.

The step comes less than three weeks after Tokyo exited a state of emergency that had included non-binding requests for business owners for shorter hours and for the residents to be mindful of basic preventive measures.

The virus upsurge in Tokyo underscores the difficulty of balancing anti-virus measures and the economy.

Suga’s government has been criticized for acting too slow on virus measures out of reluctance to damage the already pandemic-hit economy. The new standards allow prefectural leaders to target specific cities and issue binding orders, which Suga says aims to prevent another state of emergency.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said she is alarmed by the pace of the recent rise in virus cases and the possible impact of the new variants. On Thursday, Koike called for the residents to avoid nonessential trips, social distancing, and other essential measures. She is also expected to issue an 8 p.m. closure order for bars and restaurants.

The added steps would come days after the government designated Osaka for the new binding anti-virus measures because of a resurgence blamed on the spread of the variant. Osaka has declared a medical emergency after its hospitals became overwhelmed with new cases and has taken next week’s Olympic torch relay off the public roads. With Japan‘s vaccination drive still at an

early stage – just over 1 million, or less than 1% of its population have received their first of the two shots – the surge may cause further rerouting or cancelations of Olympic-related events. Inoculations started in mid-February with medical workers, and elderly people are scheduled to get their shots starting next week through late June. The rest of the population will likely have to wait until around July, making it almost impossible for Japan to reach so-called herd immunity before the Tokyo Olympics begin on July 23.

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Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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