THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
April 25, 2021 at 18:20 JST
Residents of Tokyo and three other prefectures found their daily lives dramatically restricted April 25 as a 17-day state of emergency kicked in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Department stores began operating in a strictly limited capacity, numerous restaurants opened but were not allowed to sell alcohol, while most museums and cultural facilities, along with cinema complexes, shut their doors.
Many amusement parks also decided to temporarily close, but sports events will be held without spectators in principle.
Department store operators closed all of their floors to customers, opting to only open their food halls and sections selling items such as cosmetics and women’s clothing.
The emergency is initially scheduled to last through May 11, although many health experts warned it will likely have to be extended.
In addition to the capital, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures are covered by the emergency curbs. Authorities in these areas are requesting more commercial facilities to close during the period due to the deepening health crisis brought on by novel coronavirus variants.
In contrast with department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in the targeted areas will remain open as usual and sell alcohol.
The emergency comes as Japan prepares for the Golden Week holiday period at the end of this month. It is traditionally a time when hordes of people return to their hometowns or take vacations.
In the food service industry, many establishments were subject to the closure request by authorities if they serve alcohol.
While many “izakaya” Japanese-style pubs shut down, family restaurants and “gyudon” beef bowl chains will remain open until 8 p.m., but they are not permitted to sell alcohol.
Performances scheduled for the National Theater of Japan, the National Engei Hall and Kabukiza theater in the capital were all canceled for the duration of the emergency.
Operators of cinema complexes such as TOHO, Shochiku and Aeon, also closed their theaters in Tokyo and the three other prefectures.
But four major theaters for vaudeville performers in Tokyo, including the Asakusa Engei Hall, will remain open by limiting audiences to half of capacity.
Although many major amusement parks decided on temporary closure, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea in Chiba Prefecture will stay open. Both facilities will suspend sales of alcoholic drinks from April 28.
Japanese professional baseball authorities decided April 24 that games scheduled for the four prefectures will be held behind closed doors during the emergency period.
But games for April 25 will be held with spectators because tickets have been sold. Denying entry to the stadium at such a short notice would cause pandemonium, officials said.
On April 24, J.League soccer teams said their games in Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures will be held without spectators.
The league announced the following day that games slated for Tokyo will also be held without spectators.
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