Coronavirus: With no fear of penalties, Japanese defy stay-at-home requests

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Under Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency, people have been asked to stay home. Many are not.

Some still have to commute to their jobs despite risks of infection, while others continue to dine out, picnic in parks and crowd into grocery stores with scant regard for social distancing.

On Wednesday, the first day of the “Golden Week” holidays that run through May 5, Tokyo’s leafy Shiba Park was packed with families with small children, day camping in tents.

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The lure of heading out for Golden Week holidays is testing the public’s will to unite against a common enemy as health workers warn rising coronavirus cases are overwhelming the medical system in some places. Experts say a sense of urgency is missing, thanks to mixed messaging from the government and a lack of incentives to stay home.

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In distant, tropical Okinawa, locals have resorted to posting social media appeals to tourists not to visit, “to protect our grannies and grandpas.”

“Please cancel your trip to Okinawa and wait until we can welcome you,” Okinawa’s governor Denny Tamaki tweeted. “Unfortunately Okinawa can provide no hospitality and our medical systems,

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