Japan expands virus alert in Tokyo area as surge spreads

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is set to raise the coronavirus alert level in Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures and a forth area in central Japan to allow tougher measures as a more contagious coronavirus variant spreads, along with doubts whether the Olympics can go ahead.

Virus Outbreak Japan

FILE – In this April 14, 2021, file photo, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascot Miraitowa poses with a display of Olympic Symbol after an unveiling ceremony of the symbol on Mt. Takao in Hachioji, west of Tokyo to mark 100 days before the start of the Olympic Games. Japan is set to raise the coronavirus alert level in Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures and a forth area in central Japan to allow tougher measures as a more contagious coronavirus variant spreads and doubts are growing whether the Olympics can go ahead. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool Photo via AP)

The move comes only four days after Tokyo was placed on alert while the vaccination campaign has covered less than 1% of the population.

The new measures allow heads of the prefectures to mandate shorter hours for bars and restaurants, along with punishments for violators and compensation for those who comply.

On Thursday, two top officials said there was a possibility the Tokyo Games could be canceled or even if they proceed, it might be without fans.

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