Many people in Osaka celebrated on Monday night the full lifting of the state of emergency as bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the city’s major entertainment districts largely reopened, some with a new and unique prefectural-run QR code system to track infections.

In the Kitashinchi district near Osaka Station, home to an estimated 2,000 eating, drinking and entertainment establishments, the mood was festive early Monday night as customers, some without face masks, gathered in restaurants to enjoy open-air dining. Nightclub owners and hostesses, on the other hand, were preparing for the night, donning masks and taking precautionary sanitary measures.

“Everybody is in a good mood, and I’ve gotten more fares today than I have in a while,” said Kazuyuki Maeda, a local taxi driver.

Monday marked the first day that the reopened Osaka restaurants, bars and nightclubs could sign up to a prefectural system for tracking coronavirus outbreaks. The unique system allows owners and managers of such establishments to register their business data with the prefecture, which then sends them a QR code they can print out and display at their entrance.

Customers can use their smartphones to scan the QR code and reach an online registration form where they can provide their email address.

If it’s later discovered somebody who was in the same establishment has become infected with the coronavirus, registered customers will be notified by email. They can then contact the prefecture for more information.

“By registering for the QR code system, we can keep track of infections and better prepare for a possible second wave of the coronavirus,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said in a Twitter post Monday.

The system is voluntary. Those being asked to register their data include restaurants, bars, nightclubs and cafes, as well as pachinko and mahjong parlors, movie theaters, concert halls and museums. The system will also be introduced at many indoor and outdoor events.

In addition to the city’s nighttime entertainment districts like Kitashinchi, Universal Studios Japan theme park has announced it will reopen in stages from June 8. At first, only residents in Osaka Prefecture with annual passes will be allowed in, and they have to register in advance, after which they’ll be issued a special invitation.

From June 15, anyone who lives in Osaka Prefecture can preregister for a limited number of passes, which will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. The park will eventually expand entry to people from other prefectures.

Still, as Osaka gets back to business, the prefecture is making preparations for a possible second wave of infections. Yoshimura has asked medical experts and the prefecture to study when and why the coronavirus outbreak in the United States and Europe peaked as a reference point for dealing with a possible second wave. There were no new infections recorded Monday and only two cases in Osaka Prefecture over the previous week.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.