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Virus emergency declaration leaves varying impact around Japan

  • April 21, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 9:37 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, April 21 (Jiji Press)–As Japan on Tuesday marked two weeks since the government declared a state of emergency on April 7 over the novel coronavirus epidemic, stay-at-home requests by authorities and trends to work from home have had varying levels of impact among different areas in the seven prefectures covered by the declaration.

 

East Japan Railway Co.’s <9020> Shinbashi Station in Tokyo is usually bustling with commuters, including corporate workers. However, the station saw very few people on Tuesday morning, with only 30 to 40 people coming out of the station gates with every train that arrived, and areas in front of the station was very quiet.

 

According to data collected by major mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo Inc. <9437>, the number of people around the station fell by 33.7 pct compared with 3 p.m. on April 7 (6 a.m. GMT), hours before the emergency declaration was announced. The figure was 60.6 pct lower than the average number on weekdays between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, before the coronavirus outbreak began spreading in Japan.

 

“Now, I can sit on any train I get on,” a man in his 50s working at a food wholesaler said.

 

Meanwhile, the number of people in the Azabujuban district in the Japanese capital fell by only 14.4 pct compared with just before the emergency declaration. As the area, located around Azabu-juban Station, which serves two subway lines, is a residential district, the effects of the declaration may have been limited.

 

Still, local shops have been seeing fewer customers. “Customers in our shopping district have decreased by around 80 pct,” Kazuo Hirano, vice head of a local association of shops, said.

 

The emergency declaration, which initially covered Tokyo and Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures was expanded nationwide on Thursday last week. However, some newly covered prefectures have witnessed limited falls in people moving around outside.

 

Kyushu Railway Co.’s <9142> Saga Station in the southwestern city of Saga, saw users decrease by only 7.6 pct from last Thursday.

 

Many cars were seen in parking spaces at a large shopping facility in the city on Tuesday afternoon, and many customers were close to one another, a situation that raises the risk of infection.

 

The shopping facility is also visited by many customers from the nearby city of Kurume in Fukuoka Prefecture, where a large number of people have been found infected with the novel coronavirus.

 

“I don’t want people from Fukuoka to come,” a 51-year-old housewife from the city of Saga, the capital of Saga Prefecture, said. Kurume lies along the border with Saga Prefecture.

 

 

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