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Tokyo Governor Singles out Music Venues as Breeding Ground for Coronavirus

As speculation mounted that a spike in infections would trigger a lockdown in Japan's capital, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike singled out live music venues and nightlife spots as breeding grounds for the…

TOKYO — As speculation mounted that a spike in infections would trigger a lockdown in Japan’s capital, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike singled out live music venues and nightlife spots as breeding grounds for the coronavirus.

At a press conference on Monday, Koike said that bars, clubs and karaoke parlors are high-risk areas because they are often enclosed and don’t have good ventilation. Tokyo is full of small bars, clubs and live music venues with floor space of less than 1,000 square feet. Air circulation is often poor in these venues.

Japan has thus far seemingly escaped the serious outbreaks that led to lockdowns in mainland China and South Korea. As of Monday, Japan had recorded more than 1,800 virus cases and 54 deaths. South Korea, by comparison, has had five times as many infections and three times as many people die.

“It’s not true that the government is planning on declaring a state of emergency from April 1,” Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said at a news conference on Monday, Reuters reported.

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Bars, restaurants and music venues in Japan have generally stayed open as the global pandemic has raged on elsewhere. Some major live events, including the summer Olympics, have been canceled or postponed. Live Nation announced Monday that it was canceling Halsey’s Japan Tour due to COVID-19; it was scheduled for May 7 at the Garden Theater in Tokyo.

Concerns that Japan may not escape a broader outbreak of the virus are growing. Last month a spate of infections was suspected to be connected to two live music venues in Osaka. At that time 39 cases were reportedly linked directly to local bands performing at the two clubs.

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Koike suggested that some people in Japan with no clear infection route contracted the virus in nightlife venues. She urged people to avoid bars, clubs, karaoke parlors and music venues.