Tokyo, Osaka restaurants set to resume late-night hours as COVID-19 ebbs

Nikkei -- Oct 22
Japanese tipplers will be able to return to their normal carousing on Monday when pubs in the capital and Osaka resume full operating hours as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to drop.

The decisions were made Thursday by local coronavirus task forces.

The restrictions on eateries and drinking establishments are the pandemic-fighting measure that has had the most visible effect on the lives of ordinary people in Japan.

Restaurants and bars in regions under a state of emergency that began in April had been banned from serving alcohol and were asked by the government to close by 8 p.m. The restriction on alcohol was eased with the lifting the emergency at the end of last month.

In the 19 prefectures in Japan that had been under the state of emergency, all eating and drinking establishments will be allowed to return to late night hours except those in Okinawa, which decided to stick to its original plan and continue shortened hours until the end of October. That prefecture was the only one to report new infections per 100,000 people in the double digits.

Osaka had first planned to allow restaurants go back to normal hours on Oct. 31. That date will be move forward a week.

Other regions such as Kyoto are resuming normal hours on Friday, while Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, all in the greater Tokyo region, will also allow restaurants to operate normal hours on Monday.

Osaka and other areas besides Tokyo will also end limits on times alcohol can be served. Tokyo will do so only for businesses that are certified to have anti-pandemic measures in place, such as requiring customers show proof of vaccination. Other places will be asked to stop serving drinks at 9 p.m.

Big retail sites like shopping centers will also be able to resume normal hours.

Tokyo and Osaka will continue to keep restrictions on how many people can be in a restaurant. Tokyo only allows parties of up to four per table, or up to five for more for certified places. Osaka has similar measures in place.