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A Tourism Hotspot Locks Down as Japan’s Hokkaido Fights Virus

  • At least 66 have tested positive for virus, highest in Japan
  • Hokkaido popular among foreign tourists during winter
Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki declares a state of emergency during a meeting in Hokkaido prefecture, Japan, on Feb. 28.

Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki declares a state of emergency during a meeting in Hokkaido prefecture, Japan, on Feb. 28.

Photographer: Jiji Press/Getty Images

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Hokkaido in northern Japan is famed for its ski resorts, natural hot springs and flower-carpeted hills that make it a major tourism magnet. Now the most northern of the country’s four main islands is in virtual lock-down after an upsurge in coronavirus infections forced local authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Residents on the island roughly the size of Maine have been told to refrain from leaving their houses this weekend, Governor Naomichi Suzuki said in a hastily scheduled press conference. While the home quarantine will only run through the weekend, the state of emergency will remain in place until March 19, he said.