Hundreds risk spreading coronavirus for Ikea hot dogs and flatpack furniture.

At the beginning of May, people around Japan were asked to stay home during the annual string of public holidays known collectively as Golden Week. Japan is, after all, still under a state of emergency as the country grapples to contain the number of people being infected with the coronavirus, and the government has been urging people to only leave the house for essential needs.

Essential needs covers things like grocery shopping, unavoidable medical appointments and work for those unable to telework, but during Golden Week, some people in Japan let everyone in the country down by classifying a trip to Ikea as one of their essential outings. 

The crowds were seen at the Ikea at Tsuruhama in Osaka, where business appeared to be booming during the holidays. Even before the store opened, over a hundred people could be seen queuing outside, all packed together inches apart from each other.

With the government advising people to social distance and stay two metres apart from each other, it’s disappointing to see Ikea didn’t have a better queuing system in place for customers.

▼ The car park was packed too.

With every floor of the multi-storey carpark full, access became restricted, with drivers still waiting in long lines to get in.

It wasn’t like people were stopping by to pick up an essential product and then quickly leave the store, as the restaurant area was crowded with people. Diners sat in close proximity to each other and used common press-button machines to order food.

It’s odd to see a crowded dining area like this, especially when even fast food joints like McDonald’s have banned dining inside all their restaurants across Japan during the current state of emergency.

It wasn’t just the Osaka Ikea store that was popular with visitors during the holidays, as photos from other branches showed similar crowded scenes, like this one at Ikea Kohoku, in Tokyo’s neighbouring Kanagawa Prefecture.

And this one at Shinmisato, in Saitama, Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture to the north. Although here there was more room for people to keep a safe distance from each other while waiting in queue.

Needless to say, people who saw the crowded scenes at Ikea were outraged by the apparent nonchalant attitude towards coronavirus and the disregard shown by customers for their fellow citizens.

“Proof that all these requests for people to stay home just don’t do anything.”
“So does this mean we’ll see cases rise over the next two weeks?”
“As long as people get to eat those cheap Ikea hot dogs they’re happy.”
“Why have places like Starbucks closed temporarily but Ikea is allowed to stay open?”
“Ikea ought to be ashamed for putting value on earnings ahead of the health of customers.”

The crowds at Ikea are just the latest in a string of disappointing examples of people flouting government requests and showing disregard for others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Back in March, people gathered for sakura parties under the cherry blossom trees and then a month later, people crowded parks and shopping arcades on a sunny weekend in April. With the state of emergency now extended to at least the end of May, hopefully people will start to realise that the longer the boundaries of the government guidelines are pushed, the longer it will take for our lives to get back to some semblance of normal.

So to everyone wanting to visit Ikea right now, resist the urge and hold off for just a while longer. Those tote bags and hot dogs will still be there waiting for you when all this is over.

Source: Hachima Kikou 
Featured image © SoraNews24
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