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Coastal area mayors near Tokyo call for traffic blockades amid stream of visitors

Heads of municipalities in Kanagawa Prefecture submit a written request to Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa, right, on April 22, 2020. (Mainichi/Shotaro Kinoshita)

YOKOHAMA -- Heads of 11 municipalities in Kanagawa Prefecture south of Tokyo jointly submitted a written request to the governor on April 22 demanding the blockade of roads and coastal areas in the Shonan region.

The move comes as Shonan and other coastal sites are still seeing many visitors mainly on weekends despite the request to refrain from going outdoors to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In response, Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa said during a press conference later that day, "Please refrain from visiting Kanagawa -- the beaches in Shonan. Please restrain yourselves from going to sightseeing spots."

Local governments along the coastline in Kanagawa Prefecture, including the cities of Yokosuka and Kamakura, are taking measures such as closing down public parking lots in a bid to prevent an inflow of people. According to research by the Kanagawa government, however, there was an approximately 60% increase in the flow of people around Kugenuma-kaigan Station in the city of Fujisawa on the afternoon of April 19, compared to before the state of emergency declaration. As the inflow of visitors continues, locals are raising concerns about the spread of infections.

The written request demands a lockdown, or a limitation on the use, of coastal areas attracting visitors, blockades or limitations on the use of major national and prefectural roads near the coast, and intensified crackdowns on illegal parking by Kanagawa Prefectural Police. Heads of the cities of Kamakura, Fujisawa and Zushi and the town of Hayama gathered at the prefectural government office and urged Gov. Kuroiwa to swiftly mull measures for the "Golden Week" holiday period.

Kamakura Mayor Matuso Takashi said, "In reality, not everything can be controlled by a request to exercise self-restraint. Unless we implement concrete measures to stop people's activities, we cannot protect the lives and health of local residents."

(Japanese original by Shotaro Kinoshita, Yokohama Bureau)

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