Panel: Crowds after 9 affected spread of infection

NHK -- Apr 10
Members of a government panel on the coronavirus say the spread of infections in Japan this winter was aggravated by people attending year-end parties, especially in nightlife districts after 9 p.m.

The panel analyzed data including crowd numbers and social media topics during the third wave of infections this winter.

The report shows that even after the Tokyo government requested in November that restaurants and bars close by 10 p.m., crowds in nightlife areas did not decrease, while the number of new cases rose.

However foot traffic fell significantly after a state of emergency was declared for Tokyo in January. Restaurants and bars were asked to close by 8 p.m., and crowds in entertainment areas almost halved from a month earlier. The number of new infections also declined rapidly.

In Osaka Prefecture, the 9 p.m. closure request announced in late November appeared to help cases decline through mid-December, as foot traffic in entertainment areas also fell.

But infections grew as crowds increased after the new year. The figure for Osaka dropped again later that month after a state of emergency was declared for the prefecture.

The panel concludes that more efforts are needed to limit the number of people who eat and drink out after 9 p.m.