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Universal Studios Japan reopens to local residents after three-month hiatus

KYODO

Universal Studios Japan reopened its doors Monday to annual pass holders in Osaka Prefecture after the popular theme park was shut down for about three months for the coronavirus pandemic.

According to its operator USJ LLC, local pass holders were required to register in advance for the so-called soft opening. which will gradually expand to all customers.

Prefectural residents who are not annual pass holders but purchased special studio passes in advance will be allowed to enter from next Monday.

General operations will begin on June 19, with admission being limited to annual pass holders nationwide and residents of the six prefectures in the Kansai region — Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Wakayama — with other passes.

The government lifted the national state of emergency in late May but is asking the public to refrain from traveling across prefectural borders until June 19.

The park’s gates opened shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, and guests seemed to appreciate the smaller than usual crowds.

“It is not as lively as usual with a small number of visitors, but it’s fun to ride attractions without the long wait,” said a 20-year-old woman.

“I was really looking forward to riding roller coasters,” a 14-year-old girl said.

The park, however, faces a difficult task ahead as it needs to come up with new ways of entertaining guests while avoiding the “3Cs” — confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings — to curb the pandemic.

Visitors are required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks to enter the park and must maintain proper social distancing both while waiting for attractions and enjoying them. This includes in theaters and on rides.

The theme park, which is in the city of Osaka, closed on Feb. 29 to stem the spread of the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In the meantime, Oriental Land Co., which runs Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in Chiba Prefecture, said it will extend the closure of the parks due to concerns about the virus. Tokyo Disney Resort has been closed since Feb. 29.

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