Tokyo bars and restaurants reopen under a clouded future
Nikkei -- May 27
The lifting of the state of emergency in Tokyo saw many people resuming their daily commutes by train on Tuesday. With stations bustling, the city seemed almost normal.

In the major thoroughfare of Ikebukuro, the train station that was nearly empty last weekend is again packed. While the morning rush hour crowd was slightly below levels seen before the pandemic, people lined up outside lunch spots surrounding the station at noon. Most wore masks, but social distancing guidelines seemed to have been forgotten.

Observing the crowds, a 70-year-old retiree told Nikkei she was worried. "The state of emergency has been lifted too quickly," she said as she waited for a bus wearing a mask and rubber gloves.

She was more concerned about public health than the economy. "The world has become very scary and I don't know when I'll be able to resume a normal life," she said, adding that she has not seen her daughter since the emergency declaration. "I don't know if it will ever return to normal."

A closer look at life in Tokyo reveals that life is far from normal. A 56-year-old man said he doesn't feel comfortable strap-hanging in crowded trains. "You never know who held it before you," he said.

Prices for masks in Tokyo are dropping as the capital starts to resume a semblance of normality. (Photo by Masayuki Kozono)

Shop attendants invariably wear masks to ease customer fears. But restaurants in downtown areas see few diners, and department stores remain closed. Public libraries are only for book pickups.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an end to the coronavirus emergency for Tokyo, three surrounding prefectures and the northern prefecture of Hokkaido on Monday, claiming that the virus had been contained just a month and a half after the declaration.

The stock market cheered the end of the state of emergency, sending the Nikkei Stock Average 2.6% higher to its highest close since March 5, amid hopes for a pickup in economic activity.

But people remain unconvinced, with uncertainty about the economy and their own livelihoods darkening moods in the capital.

During the seven-week emergency that started on April 7, schools, department stores, shopping malls and movie theaters were closed. Many citizens worked from home during the week and stayed in on weekends. Restaurants and bars either shut their doors or switched to takeout only, for shorter hours. In Ikebukuro, the Louis Vuitton store has reopened, but the manager of Le Coq Roti, a French bistro on the west side, said the lunch hour was still as slow as during the voluntary lockdown. Now that the city government is allowing establishments to keep normal hours, however, he expects business to pick up in the evenings.

緊急事態宣言の解除を受け、東京都内の飲食店は26日から営業時間短縮の要請が午後8時から午後10時閉店に緩和されました。麻布十番の居酒屋では安堵(あんど)する一方で、感染の第2波への不安の声も上がっています。  魚可津・正木秀逸社長:「長かったねえ。よく皆、やってきたなと思うよ」  港区麻布十番で魚料理を提供する居酒屋「魚可津」では、東京都からの営業時間短縮の要請を受けて先月10日から午後8時に閉店していました。今回の緩和を受けて早速、今月26日から午後10時までの営業に変更するということです。正木社長は緊急事態宣言の解除に安堵する一方で、感染の第2波への不安があると話しました。  魚可津・正木秀逸社長:「緊急事態宣言が出てすぐは売り上げが4分の1、5分の1まで落ちた。(緊急事態宣言に)戻んなきゃ良いね。
News sources: Nikkei, ANNnewsCH
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