As Japan on Tuesday marked two weeks since the government declared a state of emergency on April 7 over the novel coronavirus epidemic, stay-at-home requests by authorities and trends to work from home have had varying levels of impact among different areas in the seven prefectures covered by the declaration.
East Japan Railway Co.’s Shimbashi Station in Tokyo’s Minato Ward is usually bustling with commuters. However, the station saw very few people on Tuesday morning, with only 30 to 40 people coming out of the station gates with every train that arrived, and areas in front of the station were very quiet.
According to data collected by NTT Docomo Inc., the number of people around the station fell by 33.7 percent compared with 3 p.m. on April 7, hours before the emergency declaration was announced. The figure was 60.6 percent lower than the average number on weekdays between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, before the coronavirus outbreak began spreading in Japan.
“Now, I can sit on any train I get on,” a man in his 50s working at a food wholesaler said.
Meanwhile, the number of people in the Azabu Juban district of Tokyo’s Minato Ward fell by only 14.4 percent compared with just before the emergency declaration. As the area, located around Azabu Juban Station, which serves two subway lines, is a residential district, the effects of the declaration may have been limited.
However, local shops have been seeing fewer customers. “Customers in our shopping district have decreased by around 80 percent,” Kazuo Hirano, vice head of a local shop association, said.
The emergency declaration, which initially covered Tokyo and Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures was expanded nationwide on Thursday last week. However, some newly covered prefectures have witnessed limited decreases in people going outside.
Kyushu Railway Co.’s Saga Station, saw riders decrease by only 7.6 percent from last Thursday.
Many cars were seen in a parking lot at a large shopping facility in Saga on Tuesday afternoon, and many customers were not practicing social distancing, raising the risk of infection.
The shopping facility is also visited by many customers from the nearby city of Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, where a large number of people have been found infected with the novel coronavirus.
“I don’t want people from Fukuoka to come here,” a 51-year-old housewife from Saga, said.