TOKYO: No screaming on the rollercoaster, socially distant spooks in the haunted house and please refrain from high-fiving your favourite superhero: Welcome to Japanese amusement parks in the COVID-19 era.
As Japan’s funfairs slowly reopen, a group of park operators have released joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus.
Among the recommendations, thrill-seekers will be asked to wear masks at all times and “refrain from vocalising loudly” on rollercoasters and other rides.
“Ghosts” lurking in haunted houses should maintain a healthy distance from their “victims” the guidelines add.
Park staff members, including those dressed up as stuffed animal mascots and superheroes, should not shake hands or high-five with young fans but maintain an appropriate distance.
Superheroes engaged in fights to the death with evil villains should also avoid whipping up support from spectators to prevent screams – and potentially coronavirus-laden droplets – from flying through the air.
Virtual reality attractions should not operate unless the special glasses or goggles can be fully sanitised, the guidelines suggest.
And perhaps to parents’ relief, vendors will be asked to refrain from putting out toys or food samples for young visitors to touch, play with or eat.
“These guidelines will not bring infections to zero, but will reduce the risk of infection,” the operators admit, pledging to continue studying ways to bring down transmission risks.
Japan’s best-known theme parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in the western city of Osaka – remain closed with no date yet set for reopening.
But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted a nationwide state of emergency after a sharp drop in the number of coronavirus cases in Japan.
Citizens and businesses have been urged to adapt to a “new normal” in the coronavirus era, including mask-wearing and social distancing where possible.