Parents and children are flocking to parks in Japan without any other place to go amid the coronavirus outbreak, drawing complaints from those concerned about further spread of the virus.
The public is being asked to stay home under the government-declared state of emergency over the COVID-19 crisis. Parks are one of the few places where children can go as many nursery schools and after-school care facilities are shut down.
Meanwhile, municipalities are taking steps in response to complaints from local residents.
In a park equipped with swings and a fountain in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward, there is a notice saying, “Please refrain from playing in this park in groups.” Yellow tape is wrapped around the slides to keep children off.
The Arakawa Municipal Government, which manages the park, is receiving complaints that the measure makes it difficult for children to play there.
But an official calls for understanding, saying that the municipality hopes to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible.
In Suginami Ward, also in Tokyo, a municipal official said, “We are receiving requests that action be taken to stop those playing in parks despite the emergency declaration.”
Finding a place to go is a serious problem for parents with small children.
“I’m trying to relieve the stress of my kid who has to stay home,” said a corporate worker of Arakawa in his 30s who visits parks almost every day with his two-year-old child.
A Suginami resident in her 40s was visiting a park with her children. “Children disturb the work of my husband from home,” she said, explaining the reason for their visit.
A 51-year-old English-language teacher from the United States, who was with his seven-year-old daughter, said he has made many new friends and acquaintances by visiting the park every day. He said the school where he teaches is being closed, causing him to lose his revenue for now.
A 35-year-old single parent and freelance hair and makeup artist has been hit by decreased orders while busy taking care of her three-year-old child.
“My child isn’t old enough to understand we need to stay home due to the coronavirus,” she said. “Also to reduce my own stress, I hope I can let my child go out.”
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