National

Guidelines for Japan's nightlife businesses unveiled to stem virus spread

KYODO

Operators of nightlife establishments will have to keep a record of their customers’ names and contact information and enforce social distancing rules as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to guidelines released by the government on Saturday.

The guidelines on nighttime establishments, including host clubs where women pay to talk to male employees over drinks and snacks, come as new infections in Tokyo are being traced to such businesses. The new rules were also made public before nightclubs and similar entertainment establishments reopen from June 19.

Economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura urged the businesses to reopen by taking proper countermeasures against COVID-19. “It’s an effort to protect the lives of employees and customers,” he told a news conference.

Nishimura made the guidelines public as the government is trying to strike a balance between reopening businesses and preventing a second wave of infections.

Following a downward trend in the number of new COVID-19 cases, the state of emergency declaration was fully lifted on May 25.

The government asked the operators of nightclubs and similar establishments to list customers’ names and contact information hoping it would make it easier to trace infection routes. Other measures in the guidelines included maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter and implementing the use of face masks or face shields.

Nightlife venues such as host clubs and hostess bars are being asked to ensure their staff members refrain from singing and dancing beside their customers.

As for live music venues, high-fives with the audience are to be avoided, while nightclubs are urged to adjust the volume of music to the minimum level to prevent customers from talking loudly and thus protect them against catching droplets of the virus through face-to-face socializing.

But challenges remain on the implementation of the guidelines, compiled by the three sectors, as obtaining customers’ contact information will be left up to the establishments and there is also a risk that customers could give out false information.

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