Every month around the 20th, I am providing updates on latest situation regarding the pandemic and any changes in travel restrictions to Japan.
Borders remain shut for now, and many viewers have already voiced their wishes for the Japanese government to open them up.
The popular hot springs facility in the Odaiba district is closing down this autumn, the final day of business on September 5th.
The closure is not related to COVID-19, but more because the land lease with the Tokyo Government expires at the end of the year, and the management could not agree on an extension.
With only a month to go until the opening of the Olympics, the state of emergency will be lifted for the capital city while looser restrictions will remain.
Restaurants will continue to be asked to close at 8 pm. Alcohol can be served until 7pm, but not to groups of 3 or more people. Customers served alcohol must leave in 90 minutes.
Kanagawa Prefecture (including Yokohama) will allow groups of up to 4 to drink but the same 90 minute rule applies.
Many tourist facilities continue to be closed or operate in reduced hours. For example, the Tokyo Skytree is currently open only on weekdays and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
A state of emergency will be issued for Tokyo in the upcoming days, the third time this has happened since the pandemic broke out and only a month after the second declaration expired.
Details or the duration are still under consideration and a decision is expected by the end of the week (23rd).
This time the restrictions could involve a wider range of activities, whereas the second declaration mainly focused on closing restaurants early and had very little impact on daily lives.
UPDATE (May 25): The state of emergency will be in effect until May 11th. Many commercial facilities, movie theaters, karaoke, museums and gardens will close. Sporting events will be held without spectators. Restaurants will be banned from serving alcohol at all hours, prompting many owners to close down during the declaration. Supermarkets and convenience stores will remain open.
So far, the neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama are not included, so spots like Tokyo Disneyland (In Chiba Pref.) will continue to open.
The state of emergency for the Tokyo capital area was lifted on the 22nd, ending more than two months of restrictions that focused mostly in the dining sector.
Restaurants in Tokyo will continue to close early at 9pm, and spectators at sporting events will be limited to 10,000 fans.
The timing coincided with the cherry blossoms reaching full bloom (photo: Ueno park, 24 Mar) and while the viewing is not restricted, almost all parks prohibit eating/drinking and encourage visitors to quietly enjoy the blossoms, then quickly move on.
Finally, there are more signs the Tokyo Olympics will go on as planned with the 121 day Torch Relay starting at Fukushima on the 25th. This comes just days after a decision became official that overseas spectators will not be allowed not to watch the games.
Despite a drastic improvement in the number of COVID-19 cases, the state of emergency in the Tokyo Metro area was extended for another two weeks, until March 21st.
Restaurants will continue to close at 8 pm, and some facilities run by the Tokyo Government will remain closed, but overall things are running fairly normally.
The state of emergency issued for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa has been extended for another month until March 7th.
The ban on entry to Japan remains in place for foreign visitors, and the business track program has been suspended.