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Holiday Weekend in Japan Creates Surge of Domestic Travel

Αssociated Press

Travelers wearing face masks crowd at Haneda airport in Tokyo Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, on the first day of the 4-day holiday. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Train stations and airports in Japan are filled with people traveling over the “Silver Week” holiday weekend, in a sign of recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The surge in domestic travel is in contrast to previous holidays, when pressure was high for people living in urban congested areas to stay home and avoid areas with fewer infections.

The new daily cases in Tokyo have recently fluctuated around 200, but Japan does not have widespread testing and many cases are likely going undetected. Baseball games, stores and theaters are open again with social distancing, mask-wearing, hand sanitizers and temperature checks.

A study by mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo showed crowd size at a domestic terminal at Tokyo’s main Haneda airport, as well as train stations and shopping districts nationwide.

Japan, with about 1,500 deaths related to COVID-19, has banned almost all overseas visitors and requires quarantine and virus checks for returning Japanese. The Silver Week includes this weekend and two national holidays, Respect for the Aged Day and the Autumn Equinox.