Following the news that the Japanese capital of Tokyo is now back at the maximum COVID-19 alert level amidst an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases;
John Vandesquille, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:
“A new wave of COVID-19 is hitting Tokyo, which just has experienced six consecutive days with more than 100 cases and a 6.2% increase in confirmed positive tests. Although this could be due to intensive testing in clusters (particularly in nightlife hotspots), the city was right to quickly react by urging the population to avoid bars and clubs if possible. With Tokyo being the most visited destination by domestic tourists, this puts the city in a difficult position by sending mixed messages.
“However, the new wave of COVID-19 contradicts the message of the national government, which is currently heavily encouraging domestic travel with the help of subsidies and promotional campaigns.
“With only 22,437 cases so far (fewer than Ghana or Ireland, for instance), despite extended testing campaigns, and fewer than 1000 casualties, Japan has largely fared very well in its fight against the pandemic. As such, it is understandable that the country is trying to relaunch its economy, tourism in particular, but it illustrates how complicated it is to do so without opening the door to a second wave.
“Tokyo officials are very conscious of the risks brought by another wave, especially in a city with such a high population density. With now less than a year before the opening of the rescheduled Olympics, each day spent without the virus contained increases the risk of an outright cancellation of the event, which would be devastating for the local economy.
“In any way, the evolution of the situation in Tokyo should be closely monitored and serve as a cautionary tale for the large number of countries, including the UK, that are currently attempting to get their nightlife to resume as soon as possible.”