Life has stayed remarkably normal in Japan’s capital during the coronavirus outbreak, but that could be changing soon.

While the coronavirus outbreak remains at the forefront of most people’s thought in Japan, in many ways daily life hasn’t been altered anywhere near as dramatically as it has in many other countries, Yes, sports and entertainment events have been cancelled (with even the Olympics now on shaky footing), and an unprecedented number of Japanese workers are being allowed to telecommute instead of riding crowded commuter trains to their downtown office skyscrapers.

The vast majority of shops are still open, though, not just those providing food, medicine, and other essential items. Restaurants and bars are also still open too and offering eat-in service, though the crowds are noticeably smaller than they would be under standard circumstances. And while large-scale public social gatherings, including cherry blossom viewing parties, are being strongly discouraged, they’re still legally allowed.

The relatively high level of normalcy might be short-lived in Japan’s capital, however. In a press conference on Monday, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said that “The next three weeks will be a critical juncture” in determining whether or not existing countermeasures to limit the spread of the virus are being effective enough. Ominously, that’s the same thing health officials were saying three weeks ago, which suggests that the situation hasn’t improved as much as they’d hoped since late February.

There’s also a new wrinkle to the repeated warning. “Depending on how the situation develops,” Koike said, “the city of Tokyo may have to take more forceful measures, such as being barricaded in what would be called a lockdown.”

The governor’s press conference came one day after the deaths of two passengers who were among those quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Yokohama harbor for several weeks after cases of coronavirus infection were found among those onboard. The deceased were both Japanese men in their 70s. During her speech, Koike also said that there has been an unexpectedly high number of cases of Japanese citizens returning to the country after contracting the virus abroad, and that she will be reviewing the health inspection process at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, one of the largest international flight entry points to the country.

Sources: TBS News via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin, NHK News Web (1, 2)
Top image: Pakutaso
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