Nonscreaming roller coasters, socially distant spooks in haunted houses and superheroes who won’t high-five: Welcome to Japanese amusement parks in the coronavirus era.
As the nation’s fairs and amusement spots slowly reopen, a group of park operators have released joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus.
Among the recommendations, thrill-seekers will be asked to wear masks at all times and “refrain from vocalizing loudly” on roller coasters and other rides.
“Ghosts’ lurking in haunted houses should maintain a healthy distance from their ‘victims’,” the guidelines add.
Park staff, including those dressed as animal mascots and superheroes, should not shake hands or high-five young fans but maintain an appropriate distance.
Superheroes engaged in fights to the death with evil villains should also avoid whipping up support from spectators to prevent cheers and screams — and potentially coronavirus-laden droplets — from flying through the air.
Virtual-reality attractions should not operate unless their special glasses or goggles can be fully sanitized, the guidelines suggest.
And perhaps to parents’ relief, vendors will be asked to refrain from putting out toys or food samples for young visitors to touch, play with or eat.
“These guidelines will not bring infections to zero, but will reduce the risk of infection,” the operators admit, pledging to continue studying ways to bring down transmission risks.
Japan’s best-known theme parks — Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka — remain closed with no date yet set for reopening.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday completley lifted the nationwide state of emergency after coronavirus infections fell to acceptable rates.
Citizens and businesses have been urged to adapt to a “new normal” for the pandemic that includes the use of both masks and social distancing where possible.