Tokyo hunkers down for the weekend
TOKYO: Large queues formed at supermarkets and stores in Tokyo yesterday as residents in the Japanese capital prepared for a weekend at home, after the city’s governor called on them to remain indoors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Governor Yuriko Koike’s plea on Wednesday to refrain from nonessential, non-urgent outings through April 12, and especially this weekend, prompted residents to stock up on everything from instant noodles and rice to toiletries and fresh produce, despite public-service warnings against hoarding.
Yuri Inoue, a 31-year-old graphic designer in Tokyo, said she was one of the “panic buyers”, hoarding food for the next two weeks to allay concerns from her parents living outside Tokyo.
“If convenience stores and supermarkets will stay open, people should stay calm. The government should emphasize that point more strongly,” she told Reuters.
Tokyo governor Koike has asked for calm while repeating her pleas to refrain from weekend public gatherings.
“But I am saying you can go to supermarkets to buy food or medicines or go to hospitals,” Ms Koike said at a coronavirus meeting for the Tokyo government.
“There are acts of securing things like food, but I would like to ask Tokyo citizens for calm behaviour.”
Tokyo has seen a surge in coronavirus cases this week, reporting a record 47 cases on Thursday for a total of 259.
While not many for a city of nearly 14 million, experts have warned of a high risk of an “overshoot” — or explosive rise — given that more than half of the newest cases could not be traced.
The Tokyo area has also asked residents to refrain from congregating to view its famous spring cherry blossoms at parks and plans to close its zoos and aquariums for two weeks.
And retail giants Takashimaya and Matsuya said they would shutter multiple department stores in the greater metropolitan area on the upcoming weekend.
Coronavirus infections have climbed to more than 1,400 nationwide with 47 deaths, excluding those from a cruise ship that was quarantined last month.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to order his cabinet to compile an economic package with spending worth $135 billion or more, government officials and lawmakers say .