Another quiet Golden Week in Japan thanks to third state of emergency

Another quiet Golden Week in Japan thanks to third state of emergency

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa

To curb the infections from COVID-19, the Government of Japan declared the nation’s third state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo Prefectures last week. The status means another quiet holiday vacation the second year in a row.

Golden Week is a long holiday week consisting a string of various national holidays including Showa Day (Apr. 29), Constitution Memorial Day (May 3), Green Day (May 4), Boy’s Day (May 5) and anchored by one or two weekends. The state of emergency will remain through May 11 and will restrict many activities.

The new restriction requires shopping and amusement centers larger than 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet), and restaurants and bars serving alcohol or offering karaoke, to close temporarily. Food and daily essential-related businesses, like supermarkets and convenience stores, are exempt from this restriction. Restaurants not serving alcohol are expected to close by 8 p.m. and you also may notice some sections in these prefectures will go dark since the government has asked for neon lights in the shopping and bar arcades to be turned off.

Theme parks, such as Sanrio Puroland, Yomiuri Land and Universal Studio Japan and Tokyo Skytree determined to close for the period while Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea are operating as usual. Movie theaters, museums, aquariums, zoos, castles, and temples in the prefectures are also closed and most stage performances have been cancelled. Sports and hall events will be cancelled or held without spectators.

The state of emergency will also effect public transportation. Train, subway and bus schedules will be operating on reduced schedules during this time. And, for a second time, the Japan Highway Public Corporation will not apply holiday discount tolls for the period in an effort to discourage drivers from hitting the road on vacation.

Even with all the restrictions in place in the three prefectures, travel in Japan was expected to be lower again this year. A recent online poll by travel agency JTB of 20,000 men and women ages 15 to 79 found only 1,535 said had plans to travel one night or longer domestically.

This third declaration of emergency status makes me imagine the upcoming Golden Week will be just as quiet as last year’s. But, I will take heart in knowing that staying home again this year might mean we’ll finally be able to enjoy Golden Week next year.

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