Covid-19 forces Japan to close New Year’s celebration venue at Mount Takao for the very first time – where crowds gather to watch the sun rise every year
- Annual celebration draws up to 2,000 people to the summit of Mount Takao above Tokyo
- But health officials will close the top of the mountain for the first time
- Fears of drinking and camping overnight on the mountain spreading Covid-19
- Comes as Japanese Prime Minister warns citizens to limit travel during holidays
Covid-19 has forced Japan to close a New Year’s Eve celebration on Mount Takao where crowds gather to watch the sunrise every year.
The event draws up to 2,000 hikers to the 2,000-foot mountain, about an hour’s drive from the capital.
But it was canceled for the first time in history for fear of spreading coronavirus when visitors pack their bags and drink alcohol.
Tokyo officials said they would close the Omiharashi-Enchi lookout during the summit between 5 p.m. on December 31 and 7 a.m. on January 1, national broadcaster NHK reported.
Thousands of Japanese citizens climb to the top of Mount Takao on New Year’s Eve to watch the sunrise
Crowds on Mount Takao on New Years Eve watching the sunrise
They felt that the large numbers, as well as the likelihood of people drinking alcohol and sleeping through the night in Takao, were too risky.
They said that visitors will however be able to continue walking to the Yakuoin Buddhist temple.
The summit’s closing comes as the Japanese prime minister urged citizens to reconsider their travel plans during the holidays.
Yoshihide Suga also pledged on Monday increased support for medical workers and institutions overwhelmed by the country’s third wave of cases, and pledged increased subsidies for restaurants and other struggling businesses.
Suga, who took office in September, has seen his approval ratings plunge in recent weeks in part because of his handling of the new wave of business and his refusal to answer calls to end a controversial campaign. of tourist trips, Go To.
But on Monday night, he turned the tide under mounting pressure, including from government medical advisers.
Suga said: “ We have decided to take the strongest possible measures to stop the spread of infections … so that you can all welcome the New Year in peace and quiet. ”
He said the travel subsidy program would be suspended between December 28 and January 11, with the shutdown coming into effect earlier for the hardest-hit areas, including the capital Tokyo.
He also urged the public to reconsider his plans to visit relatives over the holiday season.
“ I ask (the public) to carefully reconsider travel plans to return to the home towns. I ask for your help so that we can all have a calm and peaceful New Year, ”he said.
The call came as Japan sees infections on the rise – about 3,000 new cases a day – with doctors and nurses warning they are overwhelmed.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, December 4, 2020
A poll by NHK found that 81% of those polled did not plan to travel or visit their parents during the New Year period, traditionally a busy travel time in Japan.
Japan has been hit less hard than many countries – with 177,960 infections and 2,584 deaths recorded since the first case in January – and has avoided the strict lockdowns seen elsewhere.
With cases dropping over the summer, the government has launched campaigns to encourage travel and dining, but these have come under fire as infections have risen to daily highs.
The cabinet’s approval rating fell 17 points last month, to 40 percent, according to an opinion poll published Sunday by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources.]