The Japanese government is considering declaring a state of emergency in two of the country's major urban centers to curb a spike in coronavirus cases.
Infections are increasing around Osaka and Tokyo. Experts say more contagious variants are largely to blame.
Officials in Osaka Prefecture confirmed a record 1,242 new cases on Wednesday.
Osaka Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi has asked the central government to issue a new state of emergency for the western prefecture -- its third since the pandemic started.
Yoshimura said, "We want large-scale events to be suspended and facilities closed to stop people from gathering. We are asking the government to allow us to take more stringent measures."
Officials are considering asking department stores, shopping malls and amusement parks to close temporarily.
Bars and restaurants could be asked to further shorten their business hours.
A pub owner said, "If we have to stop serving alcohol, that would be really tough. Business is usually good at this time of year. If sales drop to almost nothing, it would be frustrating."
The neighboring prefecture of Hyogo has also requested a state of emergency. Kyoto is considering doing the same.
Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko plans to make a formal request soon too. The daily tally topped 800 in the capital on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says the central government will work closely with local officials.
Suga said, "We want to take a close look at their requests and make a decision by the end of the week."
Across Japan more than 5,200 new infections were confirmed on Wednesday. It's the first time in three months the daily tally has topped 5,000.