Restaurant and hotel operators in Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures expressed disappointment Thursday after the government designated the areas for stronger measures against growing COVID-19 cases in the areas, hoping the measures will not be prolonged.

A bar owner in his 40s in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, a popular tourist destination in Japan, expressed dismay at the measures, which will be effective from April 5 for one month, a period that includes the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May or one of the year's busiest travel periods.

The designation is "just a short-term solution," he said. The measures include fines for eateries that ignore orders to shorten operating hours, as well as an attendance limit for large events.

"I thought this would happen at some point," said 44-year-old Takashi Yamaguchi, who works at a Thai restaurant in Osaka. "Pandemic measures remain inconsistent in stores, and there are still many people who don't wear masks when they go outside."

In the Akiu hot spring resort in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Kanzaburo Sato, the president of Hotel Sakan, lamented the timing of the decision.

"People were just beginning to feel optimistic" following the cherry blossom season and the start of the Olympic torch relay, he said, adding they would "definitely be less motivated" to travel now.

Similar sentiment was also expressed in Tokyo, which is not covered by the measures but has been experiencing growing fears of another resurgence of infections.

The designated measures "will probably be implemented soon in Tokyo as well," said 49-year-old Tokuharu Hirayama, who operates an "izakaya" Japanese-style pub in the capital's business district of Shimbashi.

The southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, which has also seen a rapid rise in new cases, was among the areas under consideration for the measures although it was not included in the most recent order.

"(The measures) should be employed if they are implemented in a concentrated way," said a 49-year-old restaurant worker in the prefecture's capital Naha.