Meiji Jingu to stop overnight worshipper visits

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Meiji Jingu, a major Shinto shrine in central Tokyo, has decided to close its gates during New Year's Eve to prevent spread of the new coronavirus.

The shrine attracts about 3 million visitors during the first three days of January every year. Usually, its three gates are open all night on New Year's Eve to allow worshippers to enter.

But the shrine decided to shut the gates at 4 p.m. on December 31, and re-open them at 6 a.m. on January 1, while calling on people to spread out their visits to avoid congestion.

Meiji Jingu also plans to set up signs to ask visitors to avoid close-contact and exercise social-distancing when forming lines to offer their prayers.

From January 1 to 4, food stands will be banned from operating in the shrine, and a restaurant within the shrine compound will remain closed.

The shrine says it wants worshippers to avoid peak days and times.

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