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Popular surf spots near Tokyo to surfers: Do not come

A parking lot at Ichinomiya Beach is seen closed in the town of Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on April 10, 2020. (Mainichi/Mamoru Kanazawa)

ICHINOMIYA, Chiba -- Six municipalities in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo with popular surf spots issued a joint statement on April 17 asking people not to come, as part of efforts to limit transmission of the novel coronavirus.

On a normal Sunday in April, the parking lot at Ichinomiya Beach in the town of Ichinomiya is packed with 700-800 cars from both inside and outside the prefecture. The town closed the parking lot on April 7 to deter surfers and beachgoers, but cars could be seen parked in the streets soon after. The local government has also been getting more than 10 phone calls on some days from people complaining about the lot closure.

"I can't get them to understand even if I explain at length that the measure is to prevent (coronavirus) infections," said one town employee in charge of the policy.

Ichinomiya Mayor Masaya Mabuchi commented, "Three of our residents have been infected. This area's medical service capacity is not good, and the population is aging. So, I want to avoid the spread of the virus at all costs. We are more worried about close contact inland than on the beach."

(Japanese original by Mamoru Kanazawa, Mobara Local Bureau)

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