But the city’s nightlife continues almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of desperation and largely disregard emergency measures without a dent.
Trains are full of people who eat after work or shop until restaurants close – now at 8 p.m. as part of emergency measures. In the streets and parks, young people drink cans of beer and snack as bars are closed.
Japan has never enforced a tough coronavirus lockdown, but has managed to keep its number of illnesses and deaths down compared to many advanced countries. It toughened a law that requires business owners to close early with compensation for cooperation and fines for violators, but measures for the general public remain merely requests and are increasingly overlooked.
The state of emergency in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas has been extended twice since the end of April. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is determined to host the Olympics, already postponed by a year, and extending the current state of emergency to June 20, a month before the Games start.
Under emergency measures, restaurants cannot serve alcohol and must close at 8 pm, but people can always find bars that are still open and full of customers.
In Kabukicho, a major evening entertainment district, neon lights are turned off at the area’s main entrance, but streetside bars are bustling and lit up.
The closing time of 8 pm has created a new busy time for Tokyo.
Many people stop by restaurants that adhere to shorter hours and head home on overcrowded trains. Once rush hour is over, a long line of taxis waits for those looking for an open space.
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