People step out for first weekend after Japan partially lifts virus emergency

Japan Times -- May 18
Japan experienced its first weekend after the state of emergency was lifted in 39 prefectures, where restaurants and shopping streets enjoyed a semblance of normalcy for the first time in about a month.

While many people joyously headed out to hit downtown streets and bars, others confessed that their spirits were not fully lifted yet, sobered by the prospect that a full-fledged return to the pre-COVID way of life still seemed a long way off.

The state of emergency was lifted even in some of the 13 prefectures designated as needing special vigilance, including Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Gifu, Aichi and Fukuoka.

At Megusuta, a bar in the city of Fukuoka, customers were seen sipping drinks while making sure to keep their distance from each other.

“I’ve been able to drink outside home for the first time in a month. I’ve been looking forward to the state of emergency being lifted,” said a jovial Akiko Kimura, 35, as she guzzled a lemon sour cocktail. She was visiting the bar with her husband.

But the place was nowhere near as full as it had been before the coronavirus wave engulfed the nation. Store owner Kosuke Miyabe, 37, said he is making sure that no more than three customers will share the same table, as well as placing a cap on the number of those allowed inside.

- Japan Times