Tokyo restaurants return to normal hours as Covid cases decline

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TOKYO, Japan: The people of Tokyo can once again eat and drink in bars and restaurants late at night, as authorities have relaxed social distancing rules.

The move comes as the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Japan has fallen to its lowest level in more than a year.

Since the country lifted its state of emergency on September 30, people have returned to bars and commuted on trains again, but local authorities in Tokyo have asked food establishments to continue to close early. until October 24 to prevent another outbreak of infections.

Tokyo now reports fewer than 50 daily cases of coronavirus, and the 17 reported on October 27 was the lowest number since June 2020. This contrasts with the nearly 6,000 daily cases in mid-August.

In an interview with Nippon Television, Mitsuru Saga, owner of Japanese restaurant Taiko Chaya, said: “I am delighted,” adding that his restaurant will now open until 11pm for the first time in 11 months.

However, he expressed concern that the public would be reluctant to eat inside, saying: “A lot of people are drinking at home now due to COVID-19, and I’m concerned about whether customers will return “.

During the pandemic, Japan did not immediately impose strict lockdowns, unlike other Asian countries and those in Europe. Instead, he announced a series of ineffective states of emergency that have mostly shut down restaurants and bars.

The sudden drop in COVID-19 cases in the country has puzzled experts, with some attributing it to rapid deployment of the vaccine after a slow start, as well as wearing face masks and reduced nightlife.

Some 70 percent of the country’s population are fully immunized. A total of 1.7 million cases of coronavirus and 18,200 deaths have been recorded in Japan.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike today urged residents to remain vigilant and adhere to basic precautionary measures for the onset of winter. She also asked restaurants and bars to limit the number of people at each table to four and to ensure good ventilation.


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