A station worker (right) distributes disinfection sheets to passengers on a shinkansen high-speed train platform at JR Tokyo station on August 8, 2020, as people travel to their hometowns to pass summer vacation amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. (Kyodo)
“To be honest I was a little worried because I saw debates (about whether to travel) during this time on the news,” said a 49-year-old man who was carrying a prefecture shinkansen. from Osaka to Fukuoka Prefecture.
The number of seats reserved for high-speed shinkansen trains between Friday and August 17 fell 79% from the previous year, while reservations for domestic and international flights from Friday to August 16 fell by 60% and 97%, respectively, according to rail operators and airlines.
The summer vacation comes amid a travel subsidy campaign launched by the central government on July 22 to help revive the national tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the virus outbreak.
The central government has no plans to ask people to delay travel to their hometowns and elsewhere during the summer vacation, even though the virus has continued to spread to parts of the country.
But governors in prefectures hit hard by a recent outbreak of infections, including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, have called on residents to refrain from crossing prefectural borders amid fears the displacement of people could further spread the disease. virus.
Japan saw a surge in infections after the nationwide state of emergency was lifted in late May, due to a surge in infections in the capital and other urban areas.
Officials from East Japan Railway Co. distributed disinfectant sheets to shinkansen passengers at Tokyo station to address concerns about viral infections on the train.
“I will take preventative measures as much as possible,” said Harumi Okano, a 56-year-old resident of Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, wearing a face mask and goggles and wearing disinfectant.
Passengers board a high-speed shinkansen train at JR Kyoto Station on August 8, 2020, as people travel to their hometowns for summer vacation amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus in Japan. (Kyodo)
She will be visiting her hometown in Osaka Prefecture and neighboring Wakayama Prefecture with her son.
A 25-year-old man living in Misato, also in Saitama, said he decided to travel to help the tourism industry.
“As this summer is different, I hope that my trip can even help a little people in difficulty working in the tourism industry,” he said.
As airlines have dramatically cut services amid the spread of the virus, flight time signs showed a number of canceled flights at Narita Airport, east of Tokyo.
A 39-year-old woman from Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, was waiting for a flight to Germany to meet her fiancé.
“I can’t wait to meet him but also worried because I will be quarantined when I return to Japan,” she said.