The Tokyo metropolitan government will ask people working at nightclubs and similar entertainment establishments to regularly take coronavirus tests, Gov. Yuriko Koike said Sunday.

The policy is part of new measures aimed at stemming the spread of the virus in major nightlife districts in Tokyo, such as Shinjuku's Kabukicho area, she told reporters after holding talks with economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.

"We want to make sure that people do not catch or transmit the virus also in night (entertainment) districts," Koike said.

Made with Flourish

Since the relaxation of social and economic restrictions late last month, the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases connected to so-called host clubs, where women pay to be entertained by young men with drinks, and other types of bars has been increasing in Tokyo.

Still, the number has been generally falling on a nationwide level. On Sunday, there was no death caused by the virus reported for the first time since March 6, while the number of infections totaled 17,864, up 38 from the previous day.

Koike said Tokyo on Sunday confirmed 14 new cases and six of them were found to be involving people in nightlife districts.

On Saturday, the metropolitan government reported 26 new cases, out of which 12 infected with the virus were male employees, aged in their 20s and 30s, working at the same host club in Shinjuku Ward and four others were also suspected of being linked to nightlife establishments.

"With the involvement of experts, I'd like to continue working with the Tokyo metropolitan government," Nishimura separately told reporters, referring to their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in night entertainment districts.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks in Tokyo on June 7, 2020, after having talks with Japanese economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on measures against the new coronavirus. (Kyodo)

He said the Japanese government plans to compile by the next weekend guidelines for making the districts safer for health amid the spread of the virus.

Japan ended a nationwide state of emergency on May 25. Tokyo, which has seen the highest number of infections in the country at nearly 5,400, proceeded last Monday with its second stage of loosening business restrictions, including the reopening of most facilities such as cinemas, sports gyms and cram schools.

But just a day after Koike issued a warning or what she calls a "Tokyo alert" amid signs of a possible resurgence of infections.

Tokyo, with a population of roughly 14 million, has mapped out a three-step plan to ease virus restrictions, with museums, schools and sports facilities without spectator stands reopened in the first phase.

Karaoke boxes and bars will be able to reopen in the third phase of the capital's road map. But businesses regarded as "three Cs" of closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings, including nightclubs and live music venues, are not yet part of the three-phase policy.

Still, given that the restrictions are not mandatory, some nightlife establishments in Kabukicho and other areas in Tokyo have stayed open, with their owners saying they cannot afford to continue losing money.