Are We Starting to Take This Seriously?

The bay seen between two fishing huts, with a single person walking along the beach.
The bay, where hopefully surfers are keeping two metres apart.

It’s Saturday morning. It’s warm and there’s moisture in the air. We’re expecting rain for almost an entire week. Right now, the rain has paused and some sunlight is filtering through fast-moving clouds, shining on surfers taking advantage of the wind-whipped waves in the bay, occasionally causing a glare that burns my eyes.

This weekend, we are to stay indoors except for emergencies, and the weather is cooperating. Last weekend, it was sunny and warm, and despite weaker requests to practice social restraint, the parks overflowed with cheery groups enjoying the cherry blossoms. At least this weekend, with wind and rain, those intent on ignoring experts and elected officials might be dissuaded from gathering for weather-related reasons.

Finally, it seems, this COVID-19 business is being taken seriously here. I have spent weeks watching countries abroad—my home country, Canada, included—shut their borders and announce various states of lockdown, while Japan did nothing beyond continue to plan for Tokyo 2020.

I cried tears of relief when my home province of Ontario declared an emergency. My parents are in their 70s, and my mum is immunocompromised. I am terrified for them.

I am terrified for my sister, cousin, cousin-in-law and aunt who are nurses.

I am terrified for cousins who have diabetes.

I am terrified for people like them in Japan, where life, for the most part, has continued as usual despite a growing number of confirmed illnesses. I am terrified at the nonchalance with which many continue to gather; with which clubs and cram schools, closed at the beginning of March, reopen.

But finally, this past week, the governor of Tokyo, as well as those of several other prefectures, stepped up their requests. They’re still not orders, as apparently that is not within their powers. The requests also only apply to the next few days.

But it’s something. And beneath the request from Tokyo’s governor at least, there was a threat of lockdown.

I know I am not alone in hoping and praying that this will be enough to get the attention of the general public, and for more than the three days that the request lasts.

Because if it doesn’t, I am afraid of what the next weeks and months will bring. I am afraid that Japan will become the next China, Italy, USA. I am so afraid.

Published by helenkamakura

Helen is a Canadian writer and innkeeper based in Kamakura, Japan, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. If money became obsolete, she would happily accept peaches, fresh peas, and sun-warmed cherry tomatoes in exchange for her labour.

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