Japan’s capital struggles to contain its fourth wave of infections, but are people heeding warnings to avoid street drinking after dark?

Tokyo is currently experiencing a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, with new cases surging past 800 a day. In an effort to control the outbreak, Yuriko Koike, the city’s governor, has announced a state of emergency for the capital, with 17 days of restrictions starting from 25 April that include the closure of shopping malls, department stores, karaoke parlours, and bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

As the third state of emergency since the initial wave, it’s feared that people in the city are becoming tired of the restrictions and ignoring warnings from the government, so Koike has introduced a new plan to get people to go home, by requesting that businesses implement a lights-out policy after 8:00 p.m.

Koike’s request to extinguish the city’s lights, with the exception of street lights, has resulted in famous landmarks going dark when the clock strikes 8.

▼ The moment the lights go out at Tokyo Tower…


▼ …Rainbow Bridge…

▼ …Tokyo Skytree…


▼ …And the main temple gate at Sensoji in Asakusa.

While Koike’s blackout plan aims to drive home the dire seriousness of the current situation in Tokyo, not everyone has been taking the message seriously, with news reports showing the bar and restaurant closures have simply given rise to street drinking after 8.

In busy areas like Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing, the lights go out and the big screens turn off as requested…


▼ But it hasn’t done much to stop crowds in the area.


Though the bars are closed, people have been taking to streets and parks to drink instead.


Over in Akihabara, the lights have gone dark on big buildings like the one housing Don Quijote and the AKB48 theatre.

While some hoped the darkened streets would bring about an eerie, dystopian scene like this one from Steins;Gate

…In reality, the area is still busy, with people gathering in groups to drink on the street.

Similar scenes have been occuring at Shinjuku, where lights are being turned off in busy nightspot areas like Kabukicho.

However, people are still gathering to drink, particularly in the paved area outside live music venue Blaze.

City officials aim to put a stop to the street drinking by sending out teams to patrol Shinjuku with placards asking people to stay home and avoid drinking on the street.

If people don’t heed these requests, Koike might want to consider adopting a harder approach, perhaps by blaring a message over sites like Shibuya Crossing to send chills down everyone’s spines and get them to realise the seriousness of the situation in Tokyo.

With the weather warming up and a string of national holidays known as Golden Week coming up this weekend, Koike’s lights-out approach is about to be put to the real test in the coming days. Here’s hoping it proves to be effective in driving coronavirus numbers down, because let’s not forget that people from all over the world are set to descend upon the capital for the Olympics in just 86 days.

Source: Hachima Kiko
 image: Pakutaso
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