Japan Begins 'New Normal' As Attractions, Restaurants, and Shops Continue Reopening (Video)
As Japan lifted the remainder of its states of emergency this week — in Tokyo, its surrounding prefectures, and Hokkaido — the country has started to open its businesses and attractions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared the nation’s state of emergency in early April, asking people to stay at home and non-essential businesses to close or reduce services. However, by the time the measures were lifted in most of the country on May 14, most people had already begun leaving their homes and stores had started reopening, according to The Associated Press.
Japan reported about 16,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 850 deaths during its outbreak, according to Johns Hopkins University.
With the state of emergency completely lifted and a $930 billion stimulus package implemented, Abe hopes to boost the economy and aid struggling businesses.
”Our goal is to create a new normal,” he said. “We need a new approach to resume our daily social and economic activity.”
When it comes to international travel, there is a list of 111 countries whose residents are still barred from visiting Japan, according to the county's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Travelers who have been in one of the countries — which includes the United States, Canada, and much of Europe — within 14 days before heading to Japan are not permitted to enter the country, or even catch a connecting flight through a Japanese airport.
If you do manage to catch a flight to Japan, you will likely have to wear a face mask on the plane. All Nippon Airways, Jetstar and AirAsia will require all passengers and cabin crew to don face masks for flights. Aboard All Nippon, passengers who refuse to wear a face mask will be denied boarding, according to The Japan Times. Passengers aboard Japan Airlines will not have to wear face masks, but the airline is implementing an empty seating protocol to encourage social distancing between passengers, per their website.
Individual prefectures are allowed to impose their own reopening rules, leading to attractions like the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Hiroshima Castle to reopen with regular hours on June 1. Kyoto’s National Museum of Modern Art has already opened and the National Museum of Art in Osaka is expected to reopen June 2.
Theme parks around the country have introduced new guidelines as they reopen, including asking rollercoaster riders to avoid screaming, which could prove difficult on spooky or thrill-seeking rides.
Visitors to the Tokyo Tower — which reopens on Thursday — are requested to take the stairs up to the top of the 500-foot-high observation deck under new reopening safety guidelines. There are about 600 stairs and it takes the average visitor about 15 minutes to climb to the top. Visitors must also wear a face mask and undergo thermal temperature tests before entering.
“Lifting the state of emergency marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said in a meeting this week, Japan Times reported. “There is still much that needs to be done to truly overcome the novel coronavirus.”
Tokyo will start its transition back to normal with schools, libraries and museums. Restaurants will be allowed to stay open longer than before. The next phase includes the reopening of theaters and sports facilities before finally, night clubs, karaoke and music houses are allowed to reopen.
The country's baseball season will start on June 19 with no spectators.