The third coronavirus state of emergency, set to cover Tokyo and three other prefectures, is prompting mixed reactions from people in the restaurant, tourism and other industries.
The central government decided Friday to declare the emergency for the capital and the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.
The emergency, the third of its kind in the country, is scheduled to run for 17 days, from Sunday to May 11, encompassing the Golden Week holiday period between the end of the month and early May.
The period is “too short,” Akihiko Kodama, a 78-year-old business consultant, said in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district. “I don’t think the message that the country is in a dire situation will reach people.”
Meanwhile, a 51-year-old man working for a music-related company called the measure “reasonable,” saying it was needed “during a period when the number of people going out is expected to peak.”
“I’m happy with the short state of emergency,” he said, noting the limited impact on his work.
“I want to go on a picnic in a park at least during the Golden Week. But isn’t [the emergency] good?” said a 60-year-old woman who was visiting a department store in anticipation of closures by large commercial facilities during the emergency.
But others took a more skeptical view.
The emergency will be meaningless “unless people’s mindsets change,” Hana Suzuki, a 26-year-old medical worker said in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.
At an izakaya Japanese-style pub near JR Osaka Station, acrylic boards to prevent infections were set up as it prepared to close early after local authorities requested some businesses to shorten their hours.
“Even if we close temporarily (during the emergency), there could still be people drinking on the streets,” a 52-year-old pub employee said. “I’d like local authorities to crack down on those kinds of things.”
Some have even questioned the efficacy of asking only restaurants and bars serving alcohol to close under the emergency.
“Even when we drink nonalcoholic beverages, we tend to talk in a loud voice if we get excited,” a corporate employee in his 20s said.
In the city of Kyoto, which usually sees throngs of tourists during the Golden Week period, Ebisuya, which offers a rickshaw service, has reduced the number of its vehicles to 10 from 40 as it expects a plunge in customers.
“We had anticipated (many tourists) with the nice weather, but we’ll probably have few customers due to the state of emergency,” an Ebisuya employee said.
Meanwhile, Westin Miyako Kyoto, a hotel in the city that is considering temporarily closing its restaurants, has been hard hit by a flurry of cancellations.
“We may see more cancellations,” a hotel official said. “We’re taking (the situation) seriously.”
If the country fails to prevent a further spread of the virus, that will likely affect the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
“We still have time before the Tokyo Games,” said Megumi Hijikata, a 49-year-old resident of Hino, Tokyo, who is scheduled to participate in the Olympic torch relay, adding that she hopes the emergency will see its intended results.
On the other hand, a 39-year-old Tokyo woman who is slated to work as a volunteer during the sporting event, voiced a more critical view of continuing preparations.
“I think now may not be the time to prioritize sports,” she said.
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