Japanese return to work and face 'new normal' after coronavirus emergency lifted
A day after Japan ended its state of emergency, Tokyo residents took to the streets with a mixture of relief and trepidation as they prepared for a "new normal" of living with the novel coronavirus.
Tokyo resumes business
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency in the capital and four remaining prefectures on Monday, claiming victory for managing to keep total infections relatively low, at about 16,600 cases.
"I want to go out drinking and attend concerts," office worker Daisuke Tominaga told Reuters in Shibuya, one of Tokyo's busiest neighbourhoods.
People wear masks and maintain social distancing
Unlike strict lockdowns in other countries, Japan did not force businesses to close and some had reopened even before the emergency was lifted.
Still, its official end after some seven weeks saw many people returning to work or heading out, while observing social-distancing and wearing masks.
Some still concerned
Naoto Furuki, 45, said his morning commute had been more crowded than usual, which was slightly unsettling.
"I'm still a bit worried. There maybe a second wave of the epidemic so we still need to be on alert," he said.
Schools to restart!
Many children are set to go back to school next week under precautionary measures such as staggered classes.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has warned against complacency and said everyone had to get used to a "new normal" of teleworking and staggered commutes until a vaccine or treatment is developed.
End of the state of emergency
On Monday evening, the Rainbow Bridge, which spans northern Tokyo Bay, was illuminated in seven colours to mark the end of the state of emergency.
"Let's work together so the light of the Rainbow Bridge won't turn red," Koike said at a coronavirus policy meeting on Tuesday.