Public facilities in Tokyo, including the popular Ueno Zoological Gardens, will be temporarily closed from next Tuesday amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections, the metropolitan government said Friday.
The temporary closures will not affect parks and libraries, and those selected by lottery to see the public debut of twin giant pandas born at the zoo last June will still be granted entry between next Wednesday and Friday, it said.
The metropolitan government also decided at the coronavirus taskforce meeting Friday to ask people to eat in groups of four or fewer, instead of the current limit of eight, from next Tuesday until the end of the month, with larger groups requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.
The measures come as Tokyo reported 922 new COVID-19 cases the same day, the highest daily number since Sept. 15.
To prevent straining the medical system, the government has changed its policy of hospitalizing all those infected with the Omicron variant of the virus to only hospitalizing those at risk of developing severe symptoms.
Others will be asked to recuperate in designated facilities or at home in exceptional circumstances.
The metropolitan government will increase the number of hospital beds reserved for COVID-19 patients from 4,839 to 6,891. It expects to secure 11,000 rooms at designated facilities for those with mild or no symptoms.
At Friday's meeting, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike expressed strong concern about the unprecedented pace of the virus's spread, saying, "The situation may not only strain the medical system but also shake the foundation of social activities."
Japan on Friday decided to place three prefectures under a COVID quasi-state of emergency amid surging infections linked to U.S. military bases.