Facing record numbers of new coronavirus cases and a rising death toll, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures.
Consumption in Japan could fall by 1.7 trillion yen ($16.5 billion) in a month under the emergency conditions, according to an estimate by Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.
Unlike lockdown measures in many other parts of the world, Japan’s business closures and stay at home guidance relies largely on voluntary compliance. The government is asking restaurants in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama Prefectures to close by 8pm, employers to encourage staff members to work from home, and residents to go out only for essential tasks. Schools, museums, cinemas, gyms and shops can remain open - though footfall is expected to be impacted by more people staying at home.
Widespread mask-wearing compliance means authorities have zeroed in on restaurants, where people remove masks to eat, as the public areas most likely to result in more coronavirus infections.
In April last year, Japan instituted a similar state of emergency that was lifted one month later, in May 2020.