Saturday, July 04, 2020

Public returns to Tokyo-area streets as businesses resume operations

May 26. 2020
Commuters are seen near Tokyo Station on May 26, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Japan News-Yomiuri
Commuters are seen near Tokyo Station on May 26, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Japan News-Yomiuri
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By Syndication The Washington Post, The Japan News-Yomiuri 

People returned to city streets in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, as well as in Hokkaido, on Tuesday, the day after a state of emergency due to the new coronavirus outbreak was completely lifted in Japan.

The five prefectures were the last for which the lifting occurred. Some shops and facilities there opened along with the gradual relaxation of requests for business suspensions, while others were not yet ready to resume operations because they still had to implement anti-infection measures.

In the morning, company workers wearing protective masks streamed out of Tokyo Station, heading to offices in the Marunouchi business district.

"The train was crowded compared to after the long holiday period," said a 51-year-old company employee from Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama. "[The virus] has yet to be contained, so I will do my best not to be infected."

In Kanagawa Prefecture, the number of people confirmed to be infected with the virus per 100,000 people in the previous week, ending Monday, was still above the benchmark for lifting the state of emergency. However, JR Yokohama Station in the prefecture was crowded with commuters on Tuesday.

According to a member of the station staff, the number of passengers in the station under the state of emergency was about 20% of the usual number, but the figure rose to about 50% on Tuesday morning.

"As the number of people increases, I fear the risk of being infected," said a 54-year-old bank employee from Hachioji, Tokyo, who works from home every other day. "We should avoid congestion by keeping staggered commuting."

Following the full lifting of the state of emergency, department stores and other businesses have begun moving toward normalizing operations. Amid concern over a possible second coronavirus wave, operators resumed their business while taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Odakyu Department Store Shinjuku in Tokyo, which had previously limited its operations to its food section, opened almost all other sections on Tuesday, except those closed due to the circumstances of the respective shop owners.

After the store opened at 10:30 a.m., employees wearing protective masks asked shoppers to disinfect their hands and checked their temperatures. Plastic partitions to prevent droplet infection were installed at each counter.

Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. also reopened all floors of its Daimaru Tokyo Store and Matsuzakaya Ueno Store. Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. announced it will resume operations Saturday of its six stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area, including its Isetan Shinjuku Main Store.

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