Japan has extended COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other regions for another three weeks. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that although infections were falling they remained high, and that some hospitals were still under strain.
Restriction will be in place until 19th June, five weeks before the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to start.
Organisers said they would wait until the emergency ends on 20th June to decide whether to allow local fans to attend the Olympics. Overseas fans have already been barred.
Experts said the daily infection rate in Tokyo has to fall below 100 in order for the city to safely host the Games. On Thursday, there were almost 700 new infections in the capital city.
Prime Minister Suga said hospitals were still overwhelmed in some regions, such as Osaka.
Prime Minister Suga added, the next three weeks are an extremely important period in achieving results in infection prevention and vaccine inoculation, a two-pronged strategy.
The state of emergency was first put in place on 23rd April, for an initial period of two weeks. This is the second time it has been extended.
Under the restrictions, bars and restaurants have to limit the sale of alcohol and close early. The measures also cap the number of audience members at events.
Seiko Hashimoto, head of Tokyo 2020, informed the reporters that with the restrictions in place they “expect the infection situation to improve.
She said, once the state of emergency is lifted, it will be assessed how many spectators can be allowed in.
She added that there could be different rules for indoor and outdoor venues.