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Japan shuts stores, bars, theatres to slow coronavirus surge

Tokyo — Japan’s department stores, bars and theaters shuttered Sunday as part of emergency measures to slow a surge in infections.

The 17-day restrictions are declared for Tokyo, Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka, ahead of the “Golden Week” holidays, when Japanese usually travel extensively.

There’s doubt about the effectiveness of the effort, which focuses on eateries and theme parks staying closed or limiting hours. Trains and streets remain as packed as ever, and schools will stay open.

Japan has already declared three emergencies over the coronavirus. The vaccine rollout has been slow, with barely 1% of its population inoculated.One setback is that Japan requires additional testing for vaccines approved overseas, and only the Pfizer vaccine is now in use.

Experts say the unfolding wave of infections includes more deadly variants. Japan has attributed about 10,000 deaths to COVID-19, among the worst in Asia. A domestically produced vaccine is not expected until next year or 2023.