Japan on Wednesday widened coronavirus restrictions to over a dozen provinces, including the capital Tokyo, as the country reported record new infections driven by the omicron variant.

After chairing an anti-virus task force meeting, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said: “This has been a fight against an unknown virus, but we hope to overcome this situation by preparing sufficiently without fearing excessively.”

Tokyo, where a quasi-state of emergency will be imposed as of Friday along with 12 other provinces, reported a record 7,377 cases on Wednesday.

Authorities will now be empowered to ask “restaurants and bars to close early and stop or limit the serving of alcohol,” according to the Kyodo News Agency.

Earlier this month, Japan had imposed a quasi-emergency in at least three provinces.

“We need to quickly prevent the spread of infections, given the potential for a major strain on the medical system in the near future,” said Daishiro Yamagiwa, who is in charge of COVID-19 responses.

Japan recorded over 32,000 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily spike since the beginning of the pandemic.

Shigeru Omi, the Japan’s chief advisor on COVID-19 response, said: “I think we don’t need to have eateries close if people dine in a group of about four and speak quietly while wearing face masks.”

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