Officials in Japan have issued a new state of emergency order in four urban prefectures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order applies to Hyogo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. Due to the new requirements, some pachinko parlors have been asked to stop operations. This is the fourth wave of the virus to hit the country and action must be taken in order to avoid a major outbreak.
Last year, a similar state of emergency was issued in the spring. The pachinko businesses were asked to close, but some defied the order. This made officials and residents angry. This new order is quite tough and governors have decided to not just request, but order the facilities to shut down. Businesses that do not follow the order could face consequences such as fines.
Details of the closure
Pachinko parlors that are more than 1,000 square meters in size must shut down until May 11. Smaller partners have been asked to close as well. In response, the Tokyo Amusement Business Cooperative Association has provided guidelines for member companies.
The pachinko operators have been told to keep a low profile. Business hours should be shortened, and outdoor advertising ceased. All neon lights should be turned off during the nighttime hours. Right now, it does not seem as though any of the pachinko parlors in Japan plan to shut down and follow this new order.
Osaka Hit Hard
In the latest wave, Osaka has been hit particularly hard by the virus. Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura has stated that some shops have remained open, and he is asking residents not to visit them. In a statement last week, the governor revealed six pachinko shops that were refusing to comply with the order.
As of last week, the country of Japan had over 11,700 people testing positive for the virus. Hundreds of new cases are occurring each day, so officials are trying their best to keep the public at home and avoiding a massive outbreak.
Laws in Japan do not allow local authorities to shut down businesses. In an emergency situation, officials use requests and sometimes the shaming of a business to keep them in check. It seems this time around, that the businesses are doing what they want, some in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.
For residents, many are worried about the spread of the virus. Pachinko is a gambling game, and it can be addictive. Reports have surfaced that players are traveling to other prefectures to play at an open parlor. Many residents worry that this action will lead to the spread of the coronavirus.