Businesses are confused by municipal and central government vacillating over which industries to target for temporary closure under the state of emergency declared for containing the coronavirus contagion.

On Friday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government finally announced a list of sectors subject to its closure instructions after sparring with the central government over the breadth of the list.

The initial list, which covered a wide range of industries ranging from barber shops to izakaya (traditional Japanese pubs), was narrowed down following negotiations with the state, which feared a broad-based request would seriously wound the economy.

Also spared were department stores, which can operate but must restrict their offerings to sections that sell food and other daily necessities.

Despite this, some big names have decided not to reopen any sections already closed because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd., for example, will keep six stores in greater Tokyo completely closed, while Matsuya Co.’s two stores in Tokyo will also remain shut.

Procurement had alreayd been halted at these stores and it is no longer possible to secure enough personnel to reopen them soon.

“The handling by the central and metropolitan government was awful,” an executive at a major department store chain said.

Izakaya are also allowed to operate, but only at reduced hours.

Major chains, such as Torikizoku and Amataro, are suspending many outlets in urban areas and it is no longer easy to reopen them soon, industry officials said.

But barber shops, which reportedly became an issue in the negotiations, escaped the list.

But major chain QB House does not plan to reopen, at least for the time being, any of its already shut outlets in Tokyo and six other prefectures covered by the government’s emergency declaration.

“Barbers stand close to customers and infection can happen at any moment,” a QB House official said.


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