It was supposed to be the spring break trip of a lifetime—a family excursion to Tokyo for California’s Jessie Nagel, her husband, and their 14-year-old daughter, who is obsessed with Japanese culture.
In advance of new travel restrictions taking effect in Italy March 8, a passenger waits for a train out of Milan’s main train station.
The Los Angeles family had a multifaceted vacation booked: a boat ride past the cherry blossoms of Chidorigafuchi Park, a tour of Harajuku, a stroll along the Nakamise shopping street, and a concerted effort to eat ramen and okonomiyaki (savory crepes) across the neighborhoods.
Then COVID-19 started to spread, and everything fell apart.
The more reports of cases coming out of Asia, the more concerned Nagel became that they might become infected if they traveled there. She also worried about the overall experience. Friends both at home and in Japan suggested that sites might be closed, and that streets could be eerily empty because locals would be staying indoors. And then Nagel started to fear being quarantined upon returning to the U.S., just because of where the family had traveled.
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