Tokyo residents asked to stay home for holidays

An event staff wearing a protective mask and a face shield checks the temperature of visitors at the Wearable Expo, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at an exhibition center in Tokyo, Japan

Japanese officials are asking the people to stay home during a string of “golden week” holidays beginning Thursday in a nationwide effort to curb the rapid resurgence of coronavirus cases less than three months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike warned Thursday that the infection rate could explode if people continue to travel, dine out and meet with others during the holidays.

“We are at a crucial turning point,” Koike said. “In order to slow the infections and keep them from becoming explosive, we must reduce the people’s movement.”

Koike urged people to stay home and avoid barbecuing and drinking outdoors even though bars and restaurants serving alcohol are closed under emergency measures imposed Sunday. She also asked employers in Tokyo to allow up to 70% of their employees to work from home.

Tokyo reported 925 new confirmed cases on Thursday, its highest daily number since late January.

Experts from a Tokyo prefectural task force said a rapid spread of the more contagious virus variant first detected in Britain could send daily cases as high as 2,000 within two weeks.

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