The government’s decision Tuesday to fully lift its COVID-19 state of emergency and pre-emergency measures has been welcomed by the restaurant and tourism industries, but some have called for vigilance against a resurgence of infections.
“We’ve been waiting for the decision,” said Kengo Sakurada, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyukai, at a news conference Tuesday. But he quickly added, “We shouldn’t get too excited.”
Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, better known as Keidanren, said separately that the removal of the state of emergency and intense coronavirus measures will be “a big step toward normalizing socioeconomic activities.”
Restaurants and bars in prefectures under the state of emergency are currently asked to refrain from offering alcoholic beverages and to operate for shorter hours.
The government plans to relax restrictions on operating hours and essentially permit a return to serving alcoholic drinks in a limited way after lifting the emergency at the end of Thursday. Specific easing rules will be set by prefectural governors.
An official at a major izakaya pub chain said, “It means a lot for us to resume business.” From Friday, the chain plans to reopen outlets as soon as they are ready.
Kirin Brewery Co. has pledged to prevent a beer supply shortage by flexibly coping with demand.
Travel restrictions will also be eased. Takashi Goto, president of Seibu Holdings Inc., which operates railways and hotels, pointed out that with the move, people will become able to travel more freely beyond prefectural borders. “We want to offer the comfort of extraordinary experiences,” he said.
Meanwhile, major department store operators will continue to take thorough measures against COVID-19.
“We don’t want the state of emergency declared again in the year-end shopping season,” said a department store official.
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