TOKYO — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Monday asked all residents to celebrate Christmas and New Year at home just with their families, and asked organizers to have events close early in the night.
Japan's daily coronavirus cases have been steadily on the rise and Tokyo hit its new high at 822 last Friday. On Monday, the Japanese capital city found 392 new cases for a prefectural total of 51,838.
“Christmas and New Year holidays are coming up but this year I would like everyone to put life before anything else,” Koike told a special news conference. “Please spend the holiday season just with your family and stay home.”
Koike said organizers of Tokyo’s Christmas illumination events have agreed to close at 8 p.m. every night, and subway companies will not operate overnight trains for New Year’s Eve to discourage people from gathering for annual countdown events.
City-operated parks and zoos will also be closed until Jan, 11, and the authorities and volunteers will patrol in entertainment districts for to raise awareness during the season, she said. Tokyo will also provide compensation for drinking places that cooperate for early closure request, and offer special allowances for hospitals that operate during the upcoming holidays.
Meanwhile, representatives from Japanese medical organizations jointly issued their own “state of emergency,” saying the country’s healthcare systems are on the verge of collapse, with hospitals burdened with many serious COVID-19 patients and compromising treatment for other patients. Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa compared the situation with “a candle flickering in the wind.”
Medical experts have urged Prime Minister Yohsihide Suga’s government to take tougher steps including a ban on travel and business closures. Suga has seen his support ratings plunge in recent media surveys amid public criticisms for his slow action because of apparent concern about further hurting the pandemic-hit economy.
Nationwide, Japan had almost 200,000 cases, with more than 2,900 deaths as of Sunday, according to the health ministry.