A fourth state of emergency has been declared in Tokyo, just two weeks before the city is set to host the Olympic Games.
It means the competition, scheduled for July 23 to August 8, will be held entirely under strict Covid restrictions.
Foreign spectators have already been banned from travelling to the country for the events and the latest developments mean that local fans are also now likely to be banned.
All bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol are being told to close while residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the games on TV from home.
Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 a week earlier. It was the 18th straight day of week-on-week increases, and was the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13
Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures,’ Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.
‘Given the situation, we will issue a state of emergency for Tokyo.’
Talks are being held on Thursday about whether any spectators might be allowed to attend the games.
The talks, scheduled for 8 p.m (1100 GMT) will be chaired by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, who arrived in Tokyo on Thursday. Other participants include the Tokyo and national governments and Paralympic officials.
If confirmed, the ban on spectators would mark the latest blow to the troubled Olympics, delayed by a year because of the pandemic and plagued by a series of setbacks, including massive budget overruns.
Tokyo’s vaccine roll-out has been slower than other countries. Only a quarter of the population has had at least one vaccine dose and 15% have received two.
The Olympics is expected to bring 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians into Japan, along with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters, and media.
Nationwide, Japan has had about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths.