• Jiji, Kyodo


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government tightened its restrictions Tuesday on group dining at restaurants, and closed some facilities, in response to the spread of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

The metropolitan government now limits the size of groups dining to four people per table in principle at eateries and bars certified as establishments with required infection control measures. The tighter rules will be effective until Jan. 31.

The metropolitan government is again asking Tokyo residents to take thorough coronavirus measures, such as avoiding the “three Cs” of closed, crowded and close-contact settings. Those concerned that they may have contracted the virus are encouraged to undergo COVID-19 tests.

Last month, the authority relaxed its COVID-19 dining restrictions, allowing group dining by up to eight people at certified establishments. When people dine at certified establishments in groups of five or more people per table, they are strongly recommended to use a COVID-19 vaccination certificate app.

Under the latest restrictions, there are no limits on the serving of alcoholic beverages at certified establishments. For uncertified eateries and bars, the metropolitan government has continued to ask them to limit the number of diners in groups to four and to ask such establishments to stop serving alcohol by 9 p.m.

Tokyo has also closed some metropolitan government-run facilities, such as Ueno Zoological Gardens and Tokyo Sea Life Park, although public parks and libraries will remain open.

Outside Ueno zoo, a sign reading “Temporarily closed” was put up on Tuesday. Only those who have won lotteries to view the twin giant panda cubs Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei will be allowed in from Wednesday through Friday.

“It’s too bad that the zoo is closing just as it was gearing up for the panda craze,” said a taxi driver waiting for a customer at Ueno Station. “I just hope that infections won’t spread any more.”

With COVID-19 surging again in many parts of the country, an increasing number of prefectures outside the capital have also introduced stricter group dining restrictions.

Yamanashi Prefecture is calling for people to refrain from dining out in groups of five or more per table. Ibaraki Prefecture set its limit at four.

Shimane Prefecture requests that group dining including alcohol consumption be limited to up to eight people and completed within two hours.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.