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Following the release of government plans on Thursday to ease coronavirus restrictions while extending the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency in 19 prefectures, many of Japan’s industry spokesman are pleased by the announcement.

“I highly appreciate the government’s plan,” Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, said.

Kirin Holdings Co. President Yoshinori Isozaki expressed his support for relaxing restrictions on the provision of alcoholic beverages at restaurants and bars after setting standards on vaccinations and measures to prevent infections, including the installation of acrylic separators.

“Everyone feels stuck now,” said Isozaki, expressing hopes for the loosening of the restrictions.

Suntory Holdings Ltd. President Takeshi Niinami called for the coronavirus restrictions to be relaxed as soon as possible, citing progress on vaccine rollouts.

While the government considers relaxing the restrictions from around November, Niinami said, “I think they should do it immediately.”

Izakaya Japanese-style bars have been struggling with prolonged restrictions amid the pandemic.

The government plan “could lead to an increase in opportunities for people to eat out,” an official from a major izakaya operator said.

The plan is “very welcome” ahead of the year-end shopping season, said an official of a department store operator.

The tourism industry is longing for an early recovery of demand after it faced a resurgence of the coronavirus during the summer holiday period and could not enjoy benefits from the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which were held mostly without spectators.

At the same time, an official of a major travel agency mentioned concerns about a possible rebound in infections after the restrictions are eased. Such a rebound is “certainly possible,” the official said.

At a seminar of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) on Thursday, Keio University professor Keiichiro Kobayashi said, “We have to deal with (the coronavirus) on a timeline of five, six years, or maybe 10 years.”

“We need to use our imagination to restore a dynamic economy and society and achieve growth in an environment with the coronavirus,” Keizai Doyukai Chairman Kengo Sakurada said.

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