Unsurprisingly, the escalation of the pandemic across urban populations has taken a regrettably familiar toll on Japan’s department stores. Whereas the closures during Japan’s initial state of emergency in April last year were mandated, this month has prompted a scattering of voluntary closures as department stores take matters into their own hands.

Osaka’s Hankyu Umeda flagship made the decision to close without warning over the weekend of July 31 through Aug. 1, followed by Lumine Est in Shinjuku from Aug. 4, after a rise in infections among building and shop staff. In retail, breaking transmission of a cluster usually means testing staff, ventilating the entire building and then disinfecting every surface in sight, and these stores ought to be applauded for taking quick decisive action.

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