More bad news is on the way for businesses hoping for a more prosperous year-end and holiday season to help bounce back from a 2020 year.
Battling the third wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic, many prefecture governors will extend their demands for bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages to shorten opening hours for up to several more weeks, until 2021.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, after announcing the extension of the restriction period from December 17 to January 11, said she felt “extremely guilty towards business operators” at a press conference in the evening of December 14.
Koike acknowledged that the decision “will place more burdens” on targeted businesses such as “izakaya” restaurants and karaoke lounges throughout Tokyo, excluding its islands.
But she asked the operators of these businesses for their “understanding” and urged residents of the capital to refrain from going out for non-essential purposes during the New Year’s holidays.
The Osaka prefecture government also decided on the same day to extend its request for an early shutdown of businesses for two more weeks.
To prevent a health system collapse due to a spike in infections, restaurants serving alcohol in Osaka’s Kita and Chuo neighborhoods have been asked to close at 9 p.m. from November 27 to December 15.
But the prefectural government is now asking these businesses throughout the city to close at 9 p.m. until December 29.
On December 14, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the central government would double cooperation money paid to companies that follow local governments’ request to shorten opening hours during the holidays.
The current indemnity is equivalent to a monthly amount of up to 600,000 yen ($ 5,760). But Suga said the payment would be doubled during the New Years and New Years holidays.
The Tokyo and Osaka governors’ extension decisions followed Suga’s announcement.
In Tokyo, companies that comply with the extension request will receive 1 million yen for a period of 25 days.
For the 20-day period from November 28, when the restrictions came into effect, until December 17, the payment will be 400,000 yen.
The Osaka Prefecture government will pay 760,000 yen to each company that cooperates with the extension request and will close soon after December 16.
NATIONAL Ripple Effect
Other prefectural governments have taken measures to issue a new demand that weighs on these companies.
Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki followed the governors of Tokyo and Osaka and on December 14 called on businesses, including restaurants and bars in the towns of Naha, Urasoe and Okinawa, to close at 10 p.m. to December 28.
In Saitama Prefecture, businesses that serve alcoholic beverages and karaoke lounges in the Omiya district of Saitama town and the towns of Kawaguchi and Koshigaya are currently requested to close at 10 p.m. until December 17.
On December 14, Saitama Governor Motohiro Ono said he would extend the restriction for around 10 days.
On the same day, Gifu governor Hajime Furuta asked restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol in six cities to close from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. from December 19 to January 12.
The prefectural government will pay around 500,000 yen to each company that complies for the full 25 days.
“With everyone in the prefecture together, I want to put a stop to infections,” Furuta said at a press conference.
In Aichi Prefecture, only these businesses in the Naka district of Nagoya have been asked to close or shorten their opening hours.
But Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said on December 15 that the restrictions will be extended to cover the entire prefecture from December 18 to January 11, after members of the Nagoya city assembly demanded. the governor to do so.
“I feel the same (as you do), that we have to protect the Nagoya health system,” Omura told members of the assembly.
Each company will receive 40,000 yen per day and up to 1 million yen, according to the governor.
In tune with Tokyo, the government of neighboring Kanagawa prefecture will extend restrictions in two major cities until January 11.
Officials are expected to make a formal decision on extending the request at the prefectural government’s coronavirus task force meeting on the evening of December 15.
Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and karaoke lounges in Yokohama and Kawasaki have been asked to close at 10 p.m. from December 7 to 17.
They will now be asked to continue doing this until January 11.
Each cooperating company will receive 20,000 yen per day. After December 18, this amount will be doubled to 40,000 yen per day.
The Ibaraki prefecture government is also expected to announce an extension of the current request for reduced opening hours until December 20.
Other prefectural governments, including at least Gunma and Kochi, are expected to make a similar request.
NOT IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT
The wave of decisions to expand restrictions will deal another blow to businesses already hard hit during the pandemic.
In Tokyo’s Kabukicho, the country’s largest nightlife district, many people walked past bars and restaurants without stopping, in a hurry to get home on the evening of December 14 after the governor’s announcement.
A 39-year-old bar owner in the area said Koike’s decision was “an expected move, given the number of new infections in recent times.”
“However, this is the worst result,” he said, looking utterly disheartened.
At the request of the metropolitan government, it has closed the bar at 10 p.m. since the restrictions went into effect on November 28.
Its sales for the first half of December were about 40% of what they normally were, due to the waning holiday season.
The compensation promised by governments – even doubled – may not be enough to cover fixed costs and expenses that total more than one million yen.
“Thanks to the generosity of our regular customers, we are barely able to do this,” he said.
Koike said that for Tokyo to “welcome a peaceful new year,” businesses and residents must follow strict anti-virus measures.
The bar owner said he would respect the governor’s request but did not share his feelings.
“The company has fallen more and more into the red,” he said. “I can’t even afford to celebrate New Years Eve.”