Empty shelves in a supermarket on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan.
Empty shelves in a supermarket on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Tokyo residents started panic buying basic goods Thursday soon after the capital’s governor urged people to stay at home over the weekend.

Bread, rice, pot noodles and meat sold out quickly across the Japanese capital, with shoppers stocking up on similar items in neighboring Chiba prefecture, too.

Rush for essentials: The latest shopping spree comes as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday urged residents in the city to avoid making “non-essential outings” this weekend as the city reported an increase in its number of novel coronavirus cases.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Koike said Tokyo is now at a “critical moment” to stop the infection rate from spiking. She asked event organizers to refrain from holding large gatherings and urged Tokyo residents to work from home as much as possible and avoid social meetings and crowded places until April 12.

On Thursday, Koike worked with four other prefectural governors, who requested residents in Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa and Yamanashi prefectures to refrain from visiting Tokyo over the weekend.

Koike’s latest remarks will be a test for the city of over 9 million people, which has been reluctant to impose a lockdown on its residents. While other countries have been quick to enforce restrictions on their citizens to contain the spread of the coronavirus, in Japan it’s largely been business as usual. 

Japanese authorities this week announced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.