Workers at tourist spots have voiced disappointment after the government decided to expand pre-emergency anti-virus measures to include Tokyo and two other prefectures.
On Monday, Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa will join the prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi, where the tough measures — similar to those taken under a state of emergency — have already been implemented.
The measures are set to continue until May 11 in Tokyo and May 5 in the other five prefectures. Tourism-related businesses will be severely affected as the period includes the Golden Week holiday period from late April to early May.
Moe Yamauchi, the 38-year-old manager of the Nishiki Marun sweets store in the city of Kyoto, was surprised the decision was taken so soon after Kyoto Prefecture exited the country’s second state of emergency at the end of February.
“I can understand it’s necessary, but I’m worried what I should do during the Golden Week period and the high season for school trips,” Yamauchi said.
Disappointment was also felt in the accommodation industry. Hostel Inn Kyoto Gion, also in the city of Kyoto, said that it has received just one reservation for the Golden Week period.
Hotel manager Masahiro Takemura, 48, complained that the measures are different from those taken under a state of emergency in name only, casting doubt on their effectiveness.
In Tokyo’s busy Shibuya district, a 17-year-old high school student said she feels everyone is becoming less concerned about the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“I don’t think (the planned measures) mean anything because the number of infections haven’t declined in Osaka, where the steps have already been taken,” she said.
“I think it’s better than nothing,” an 18-year-old new university student from Tokyo’s Ota Ward said. But he expressed disappointment that he will not be able to participate in parties and other events for new university entrants.
In Okinawa, the steps have cast a cloud on whether the southernmost prefecture will be able to host its leg of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay, scheduled for May 1-2.
“I want the event to go on as much as possible,” said 78-year-old Isamu Miyagi, slated to participate in the relay in the city of Urasoe.
Miyagi, who also ran in the torch relay for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, said that a “torch relay is an indispensable symbol of the Olympic Games.”
“But if it’s canceled, I must accept that as a sign of the times,” he said.
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