Japan’s famed cherry blossoms are now in full bloom, but visits were entirely suspended in Tokyo due to the coronavirus.
The governor of the Japanese capital, Yuriko Koike, repeatedly asked the 13 million residents to stay home this weekend, as the capital is on the verge of an explosion in virus infections. He warned that there would be a severe quarantine in the city if the spread of the virus is not contained.
On Friday afternoon, access to Ueno Park was closed, a favorite spot for the “hanami” or flower sighting. The signs read “No groups” or “Danger, do not enter.”
The empty parks were a drastic change compared to last weekend, when people came in crowds after the government announced that national school closings would end, leading many people to believe the outbreak was under control when in reality was getting worse in the capital.
Koike repeated his request on Friday to stay home, and asked the Tokyoites to postpone their visit to the cherry trees until the following year. “The cherry trees will certainly blossom next year. Our current priority is to overcome this difficult moment, ”he said.
Amusement parks, zoos and aquariums, as well as coffee shops and department stores will be closed during the weekend. Authorities were particularly concerned that asymptomatic youth spread the virus.
Daichi Harada took fresh air with his dog in the park after being sent home for an extended period.
“Tokyo asked us to stop with the cherry blossom sighting,” he said as he left. “It is our duty to stay home.”