The number of COVID-19 cases remains high and hospitals continue to operate at the limit of their capacities despite a state of emergency, as Japan stood 50 days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
But the nightlife of the capital continues almost as usual, as people in one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rate against COVID-19 in the world are increasingly frustrated and defy emergency measures, restrictions that, from breaking them is largely of no consequence.
Trains are packed with people heading out to dinner after work or shopping until restaurants close, now at 8 p.m., in accordance with emergency measures. Young people drink canned beers and snack on the streets and parks because the bars are closed.
Japan has not been in strict lockdown for coronavirus, but has managed to keep the number of cases and deaths below many of the more developed countries. He tightened up a law that requires business owners to close earlier, with compensation for cooperation and fines for violators, but the measures for the general public remain simple requests, which are increasingly ignored.
The state of emergency in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas has been extended twice since the end of April. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga remains determined to host the Olympics, which were already postponed a year ago, and has extended the current state of emergency until June 20, a month before the tournament’s scheduled start.
According to emergency measures, restaurants cannot serve alcohol and must close after 8pm. But people can always find a place that is still open and full of customers.
In Kabukicho, one of the main entertainment districts, the neon lights at the front door are off. But the bars it houses are full and perfectly lit.
The 8pm closing time has created a new rush hour in Tokyo.
Many people stay until the restaurants that adhere to the hours close, and then they head home in crowded trains. After rush hour ends, there is still a long line of taxis waiting for people who found an open spot.