(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. agreed to limit military personnel’s movements off base in Japan, after regional governors blamed American troops for helping to introduce the omicron variant of Covid. 

For two weeks starting Monday, U.S. Forces Japan personnel will only be allowed outside military facilities for activities deemed essential, the two sides announced in a statement late Sunday. The U.S. said it had also required mask-wearing for all personnel when outside of their homes and would maintain pre-departure and post-arrival testing requirements. 

“The United States and Japan are committed to working together to protect the health of the Japanese people and U.S. service members,” the two sides said, citing meetings last week of their respective foreign and defense ministers. The Japanese government said it “appreciates the strong commitment, extraordinary flexibility, and cooperation of USFJ to transparently and continuously implement stringent Covid-19 mitigation measures.”

Areas hosting or close to U.S. bases saw some of the biggest increases in infections on a per head of population basis, prompting the government to introduce restrictions for the first time in months in some localities. Okinawa, which is home to the bulk of U.S. troops in Japan, saw a record 1,759 cases on Saturday, broadcaster NHK reported. Yamaguchi prefecture saw 154 cases, about half of them in the city of Iwakuni, which hosts a U.S. Marine base. 

Japan had managed until recently to avoid the kind of surge in Covid-19 cases seen in many Western nations. While low compared with some other nations, Japanese case numbers have climbed more than 10-fold since the start of the year, increasing concerns that a bigger wave is underway.        

A quasi emergency begins today in the prefectures of Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima, and is set to continue to the end of the month. It will allow local governments to place restrictions on businesses. 

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