This week, thousands of Japanese tulips lost their heads because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, tourism officials recently ordered that 800,000 tulips be beheaded as visitors were violating social distancing guidelines, and crowding to see them.
According to a report by Japan Today: “Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus prompted officials to cancel Chiba Prefecture's annual Sakura Tulip Festa, which usually draws hundreds of thousands. But, crowds still gathered to see the flowers, Sakura City Tourism Association said, leading to them behead roughly 800,000 flowers.”
Twitter users who shared the news and photos said this was “heartbreaking”.
The 800,000 tulips have long been a centerpiece for an annual festival at the picturesque square. The pink and red flowers that usually carpet the 7,000-square-metre tulip gardens at this time of year.
The event that was scheduled to take place between April 1 and 26, was canceled when Japan’s government declared a state of emergency to Tokyo and six prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka for about one month on April 7.
But, this did not stop people from crowding to meet the tulips.
According to the Associated Press, "To prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection, 800,000 tulips are cut off after the event was decided to be canceled at the Sakura Furusato square in Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture on April 22, 2020, amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus COVID-19."
Apparently, there was no other practical way to close off the square or keep visitors away.
“Japan expanded a state of emergency nationwide to stem the growing spread of the disease, but the measures have no legal force and are weakly enforced compared to elsewhere in the world,” reported Japan Today.
Furthermore, the Japanese government decided to add 40 prefectures to the area of the emergency declaration and expand the target area to all over the country on April 16th. The period will be until May 6th. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked for refraining from going out to the extent possible."
Reuters reported that the cut flowers have been donated to kindergartens.