Japanese restaurants see slow recovery two weeks after COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Two weeks after five prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, lifted their requests for dining establishments to shorten opening hours, customers are still not returning in large numbers to restaurants and bars.

Customer numbers “remain below levels before new coronavirus infections began to spread,” an industry official said.

Still, there are signs that diners are slowly returning.

According to restaurant reservation website operator Gurunavi Inc., the number of online restaurant and bar reservations in October increased 2.4 times from September, when many prefectures were under a state of emergency. COVID-19.

Many users have made reservations for smaller groups and reservations are increasing, especially after requests for shorter hours were lifted on Oct. 25, a Gurunavi official said.

However, izakaya pubs are still facing challenges as many people are now working from home and therefore have fewer opportunities to go out.

Watami Co. has restarted operations at all of its izakaya pubs, but most of them now close at 11 p.m.

The number of customers “falls sharply after 8 p.m.,” said President Miki Watanabe.

The number of diners at family restaurants is increasing, but business stops after 9 p.m., people in the industry have said.

Restaurants and bars are also struggling to find employees.

After the virus started spreading in the country last year, many part-time workers in the industry quit their jobs.

Last month, the number of part-time jobs available rose in nearly every category of the restaurant and bar industry, according to employment information provider Mynavi Corp.

The rise was particularly pronounced for izakaya and bars, which quadrupled in the past week.

Even though the number of applicants is increasing, “the pace has not matched the growth rate of available jobs,” said a Mynavi official.

Restaurants and bars are trying to secure workers, including lending and borrowing staff between their establishments.

However, the situation is “tough especially in the city centers, where many students were working”, said a manager of a large restaurateur.

“We have a sense of crisis as job applications have been declining since the summer,” said a manager at a large chain of family restaurants.

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About Mohammed B. Hale

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