Tokyo Enacts a Full State of Emergency Against COVID-19 Ahead of Olympics

The new 17-day emergency will begin Sunday and last until May 11.

Just three months before the scheduled start of the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese capital has been placed under a state of emergency due to a growing wave of COVID-19 cases.

The new 17-day emergency will begin Sunday and last until May 11, which is the end of Japan's "Golden Week" holidays, a time of year that typically involves travel, according to The Associated Press. It affects Tokyo and the metropolitan prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo.

Earlier this month, Japan enacted a state of "quasi-emergency" in Tokyo, however, this new declaration will toughen those rules allowing prefectural governors to order businesses to close (with daily compensation) and fine those who violate the rules.

Department stores, malls, bars, restaurants with alcohol, theme parks, theatres and museums will close. Restaurants that do not serve alcohol and public transportation will close early. Grocery stores and schools will remain open, but universities have been asked to move their classes online.

Over the past few weeks, Japan has been fighting a third wave of rising cases. The country has reported a total of about 550,000 cases and less than 10,000 deaths. Although Japan has reported far fewer COVID-19 cases than western countries, the country is on high alert ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Critics of the state of emergency in Japan say that it is not long enough and privileges the Olympics schedule over the health of Japanese citizens. The state of emergency is scheduled to end before International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach visited Hiroshima on May 17.

However, Bach has said that the declaration "is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government. But it is not related to the Olympic Games. It is related to the golden week," The AP reported.

More than 15,000 athletes are slated to descend upon Tokyo ahead of the start of the Olympics on July 23. Spectators from abroad have been banned from the games this year.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at

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