People expressed concern Friday after the government decided to add Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures to the areas for the coronavirus state of emergency and extend it to May 31, while some were skeptical about whether the measures can bring down the number of infections.
"I wonder if it is worth issuing an (emergency) declaration now," said Tsukasa Ishii, who was on the way to work in Fukuoka Prefecture. Japan has seen no signs of new cases abating even under the current state of emergency.
As restaurants and bars in the two prefectures will be prohibited from serving alcohol and must close by 8 p.m. under the expanded emergency, the 33-year-old also said, "I feel sorry for the eateries."
Tokyo and the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo have been under the nation's third state of emergency since April 25 in an effort to reduce the flow of people, with local authorities taking stronger anti-virus measures such as asking department stores to close temporarily. Aichi and Fukuoka will join the four prefectures from Wednesday in coming under the emergency declaration.
The third declaration means the public is increasingly frustrated with restrictive measures. A growing number of people are seen drinking on the street and crossing prefectural borders for shopping and traveling.
When the first state of emergency was declared in April last year, many avoided nonessential outings as requested by the authorities.
But during the Golden Week holiday period from late April to early May this year, the number of people moving throughout the country by train and plane rose more than five and 10 times, respectively from the same period last year, railway companies and airlines said Thursday.
In the central Japan city of Nagoya in Aichi, 58-year-old Nobuya Matsuyama said, "Looking at the flow of people now, it was difficult to suppress infections under less strict measures. I have the impression that response measures are falling behind, as (the government) was unable to foresee the future."
A 24-year-old woman from Nagoya who works at an apparel store said, "I lack a sense of crisis compared with the last time" when the emergency was declared in January, adding, "I might go out once in a while."
Meanwhile, some workers expressed relief as the government plans to ease some measures including allowing department stores to reopen.
"If we can open the store even for shorter operating hours, we can devise ways to run the business and secure sales," said an official of a department store in Tokyo.
But the official also wondered if the store can really be reopened with shortened business hours, as it will be the local governments that decide on the specific requests that businesses need to adhere to.