Osaka Prefecture in western Japan, which is now reporting more daily coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the country, plans to ask the central government for a new designation that would allow its governor to enforce stricter anti-virus measures.
Osaka officials confirmed nearly 600 new infections on Wednesday. That marks the first time in more than two months that its daily tally has surpassed 500.
Officials in Osaka want to be able to request pre-emptive steps from residents -- without a new state of emergency declaration by the central government.
They say the situation in Osaka has completely changed over the past week.
The chief of the government advisory panel said the availability of hospital beds is now nearing Stage 4, the worst possible level.
Omi Shigeru said, "I think it's time to consider issuing stronger anti-virus measures, after giving due consideration as to how we can get more cooperation from people in Osaka.
Osaka's government plans to request that restaurants and bars close by 8 p.m. Officials also want to require people who visit restaurants and bars to wear masks or be barred from entering.