World (AP)

Mayor of Tokyo’s Shibuya district asks Halloween partygoers to stay away | AP News

Mayor of Tokyo’s Shibuya district asks Halloween partygoers to stay away | AP News

TOKYO (AP) — The mayor of Tokyo’s busy Shibuya shopping and entertainment district is asking Halloween celebrants not to visit, fearing that a large number of partygoers following the COVID-19 pandemic could cause a disaster similar to last year’s fatal crowd surge in South Korea’s capital.

“This year, we are making it clear to the world that Shibuya is not a venue for Halloween events,” Shibuya city Mayor Ken Hasebe said at a news conference Thursday. “Please, do not come to the Shibuya station area for Halloween.”

Hasebe said he understands that Halloween is a fun celebration around the world, but noted that a crowd crush like the one that killed about 160 people celebrating Halloween last year in Seoul’s Itaewon district could happen in Shibuya.

“A fatal accident like Itaewon can happen here any time,” he said.

Shibuya’s famed intersection by its train station, nicknamed “scramble crossing” for the large number of pedestrians attempting to cross, has become a popular destination for residents and tourists on Halloween, drawing large crowds of young people in costumes every year.

The number decreased during the pandemic, but Shibuya’s streets were packed again on Halloween last year, and city authorities fear this year’s turnout could be worse, Hasebe said.

“We have a strong sense of crisis that we may not be able to ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors,” he said.

Shibuya is significantly beefing up the number of security guards and officials to remind people about a city ordinance banning alcohol consumption near the station between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31.

During the period, traffic restrictions will also be in place in the night and early morning hours, Shibuya city said.