A woman makes her way in Tokyo's Kabukicho district. Photo: REUTERS file
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Tokyo may pay restaurants, bars to shorten hours in August amid spike in virus cases

65 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Mari Saito

Japan is bracing for a surge in the number of coronavirus infection after fresh cases exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time, a week after the start of a national travel campaign to revive the tourism industry.

Tokyo confirmed a record 367 cases of coronavirus infection on Thursday. That's one more than the previous high of 366 cases on July 23. Of the latest number, 236 or 64% were people aged in their 20s and 30s, officials said.

Tokyo plans to urge shorter operating hours for restaurants and karaoke parlors next month to tackle the recent spike in infections, officials said.

The metropolitan government is considering a compensation of 200,000 yen to establishments that comply with its request to close at 10 p.m. from Monday until Aug 31, it said.

Infections are spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo, but also in other regions, including remote islands. Iwate Prefecture, which had been the last-remaining prefecture free from coronavirus infection, had its first cases on Wednesday, while the southern island of Okinawa had 44 infections, hitting a record for the third day in a row.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government launched a national travel campaign, dubbed Go To, on July 22 that aimed to revive a battered tourism industry despite a resurgence in coronavirus infection.

"It's become a habit for me to check the number plates of cars to see whether they come from outside the prefecture. I'm not going to lie, I get a bit shocked when I see that someone's visiting from far away," said Keiko Tsukahara, the co-manager of an inn in the hot springs town of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture. "But we have had zero income for the past few months and we need customers."

Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita, however, ordered 21 city buildings and other city-owned tourist attractions to be closed over the long holiday last weekend as he prioritized health over business.

The small town in Aomori Prefecture has only one hospital, with just four beds for patients with infectious diseases. It has so far reported no COVID-19 cases.

"As we experience the second wave of cases, it shouldn’t be a choice between our lives or the economy. Our only option is whether we can protect and save lives," said Miyashita.

A member of the World Health Organization's influenza panel said the Go To campaign was ill-timed, and it has created a dilemma for those who fear the spread of the virus but are in desperate need of business.

"I'm all for supporting the tourism industry ... But we should not do that when infection is resurgent. The virus spreads as people move. This is clearly a mistake," Norio Sugaya said.

"Doctors will soon be signalling the red light. Hospitals will soon be filled, so will ICUs (intensive care units)."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

65 Comments
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"Doctors will soon be signaling the red light," Sugaya added. "Hospitals will soon be filled, so will ICUs (intensive care units)."

Typical melodramatic exaggeration when it comes to Japan.

-8 ( +13 / -21 )

I've never quite understood how exactly is supposed shortening of hours help? Is it just that less people will get to go these establishments?

17 ( +19 / -2 )

all bizarre in Japan!

who advises the government on COVID19 a bunch of clowns or something ?

Go to Coronavirus campaign basically.

Ridiculous timing by a ridiculous government...They couldn't organize a knees up in a brewery! Woeful!

20 ( +23 / -3 )

I think shortening hours can help to prevent the spread of the Virus.

Normally people go to Izakaya around 5pm or 6 pm, eating and drinking.

After that around 9pm or 10pm, they go to Karaoke or Girls Bars.

And Karaoke and Girls Bars are a very very high risk to catch the virus, right?

But if these establishments are closed already or will close within the next 30 minutes, people will go home after the Izakaya, instead to Karaoke or Girls Bars.

It can work to help to prevent the spread of the virus.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

Convenience stores everywhere are gleefully rubbing their hands at the inevitability of higher alcohol sales

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I think shortening hours can help to prevent the spread of the Virus.

I will have to drink faster!

26 ( +26 / -0 )

@Reckless

Probably for you and me, no difference.

You drink faster and I go already at 8pm to the Girls Bar.

But in generall, shortening hours can work.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

This is so stupid! Why should I have to pay to have bars stay in business?? If they can't operate and keep their customers safe, then they should just close! Yes, bars may go out of business, but the industry will survive!

-4 ( +12 / -16 )

Shut them already.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

I read another news today that already 40000 people lost their jobs because of the Corona Virus.

Can you guys imagine what will happen if you shut down all these places?

1 ( +10 / -9 )

I'm gonna get smashed tonight

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This virus has gone out everyones control. You can try to defeat it but we wont win unless docotors find medical treatment and a vacine. They probably will never be able to find a vacine for this then what? Natural selection will takes it course and the strongest will live on?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Tokyo without bars, restaurants and clubs gives the city the personality of a giant car park.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Makes no sense. Is Tokyo legislators trying to buy future votes?

The responsibility is with the "customers" to control themsleves and NOT for government to subsidize businesses for what they would have lost anyway if the people stayed away. That is business for everyone, not just those attract night life.

Government is NOT the source for bail out used as "bribes" to close a business. If people do not come, business will close. That is exactly what is happening all over the world.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Why oh why hasn't Japan and other nations taken the same steps NZ did - it would all be gone like it is now if they had.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

so Koike expects bars, whose main income in many cases is dependent on the 9pm-2am crowd, to close 10pm every day for all of August, and for that, they get a one time payment of only 200k?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I cannot think of any good solution to float economy and hold down COVID-19 at the same time. Perhaps time solves the problem.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

> Mirai HayashiToday  04:34 pm JST

This is so stupid! Why should I have to pay to have bars stay in business?? If they can't operate and keep their customers safe, then they should just close! Yes, bars may go out of business, but the industry will survive!

Because we live in a community with other people. You would like others to think of you and your business when in dire straits like this.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Offering 200,000 is not enough to compensate bars to close early for a month. Also people complaining about bars and restaurants getting support from the government don't understand how much tax they pay, people they employ and suppliers they support. Lastly very easy to say lock down when your company pays you to stay home and watch Netflix.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

letsberealisticToday  04:51 pm JST

Why oh why hasn't Japan and other nations taken the same steps NZ did - it would all be gone like it is now if they had

New zealand is a small country, with a low population density.that is now a hermit state.

Until yesterday you could have said why doesn't the world follow Iwate.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

My local izakaya has a charcoal smoke environment with spilled beer every where as an alcohol sanitizer. The virus simply can't survive under such hostile conditions.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

@Reckless

The same enviroment is inside mine and millions of other japanese.

Therefore the spread of the virus in Japan is not such a big problem like in other countries.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

@Reckless

I forgot an important word...

The same enviroment is inside mine and millions of other japanese body!

Therefore the spread of the virus in Japan is not such a big problem like in other countries.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Only in Japan do they green light a massive travel campaign in the midst of a pandemic, and then double down by saying it is just impossible to change the dates because they have been set.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

And here's a wild idea... instead of paying establishments and SUGGESTING they close, why not just impose another emergency declaration and then pay them assistance money for closing? Makes no sense to say they don't have the money for assistance if you close, then saying they'll pay you to close.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

@carpslidy

if by hermit state you mean NZ doesn't currently let in any tourists, yes you are right, just as Japan currently doesn't as well as many other countries. Oh, NZ also let's foreign residents return unlike some.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@smithjapan

I think the assistance money would be far greater than a one time 200k payment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

nonu6976Today  05:34 pm JST

@carpslidy

if by hermit state you mean NZ doesn't currently let in any tourists, yes you are right, just as Japan currently doesn't as well as many other countries. Oh, NZ also let's foreign residents return unlike some.

You forgot to mention nz requires all arrivals to be locked in a hotel for 14 days, is going to start charging all 3000nzd for this and is limiting arrival numbers (nz residents included)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The govt. should've promoted a travel within your own prefecture campaign. That way they could've promoted businesses in all areas of Japan with people from within their own areas. 30-50% off if you could prove you were traveling within your own prefecture. Could've called it Home is Where the Heart Is campaign or something.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

not sure how closing at 10pm will really help, except maybe to restrict the host/hostess clubs. But those type of places likely wont comply anyway.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Speed, You have a great idea there. Too bad it was not chosen. Maybe later.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Crowd more people in the smallest area for the shortest time. e=mc2

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@carpslidy

yes, the 14 days in a hotel is called quarantine, or shall all arrivals just be allowed to roam freely straight out of the airport? As they don't have unlimited quarantine hotels avaliable, they need to cap arrivals until free rooms are available - it's called common sense. NZ is probably the only 1st world country in the world which has packed bars/restaurants/sports stadiums/theaters/music venues, because community transmission has been eliminated. Not bad for a "hermit" country.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Just for technicality for financial support to affected businesses/individuals, I think it would be faster and more efficient to suspend levying taxes for now (for another fiscal year?), rather than to provide monetary support. The latter has already suffered several mishaps such as delaying processes and crowded applicants (could become a virus hot spot). Handling is costly due to insufficient social ID or digital services. The government came under criticism when they commissioned logistical work to Dentsu, via another "go-between agent" with kickbacks deduced from public money during the process.

Tax reduction is simple, near automatic with no need of handling agency, no need of application/verification. Applicants wouldn't have to fill out many forms (still paperwork!). Not to mention people under affected areas need a quick support to sustain their business and livelihood.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

How about paying me NOT to go to bars and pubs?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Monty.

You go to girls bars? Are you seriously having to pay a girl to talk to you? That’s really really sad.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I like the way you think, Mr. Kipling!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

To be honest, I don't think New Zealand is so fundamentally different to Japan. Sure there is a vast population difference, but almost half of New Zealand's population lives in a single city. Its not as dense as Tokyo, but its certainly more dense than the circumstances the majority of Japanese live in outside the super cities. Furthermore, both are island nations with the capacity to secure their borders. Both economies are primarily consumption and service based, with a large tourism sectors (proportionally) and export industries largely centered around a major product (cars and dairy constitute around 20% of the economy for Japan and New Zealand, respectively). Both have relatively moderate populations which are generally amenable to government. 

Furthermore, in terms of economic impact of these countries covid19 responses, both are looking at around the same effect on GDP:

New Zealand's estimated economic impact is a 7.2% shrink in GDP. 

https://www.nordeatrade.com/fi/explore-new-market/new-zealand/economical-context

Japan's estimated economic impact is a 7% shrink in GDP. 

https://www.jcer.or.jp/english/the-japanese-economy-will-contract-by-7-in-fy2020-even-with-gradual-resumption-of-economic-activity

Personally, I feel that Japan could have followed a New Zealand model successfully. The previous state of emergency did help to suppress the virus, and although New Zealand was capable of enforcing a lockdown, I feel that had the government here advocated for a succint and focussed plan, people would have complied and we may very well be another success story.

Some might say "Japan is a success story, look at the death rate". However a low death rate is only positive if the is some gain. Given that it doesnt appear that Japan is making any real economic gain from this strategy, largely because consumer confidence and consumption has bottomed out. New Zealand may not be better off economically (although it is already predicted to have a quick turn around), but it has no deaths now, and no cases. And they aren't closing bars early. So I dunno, its all academic now, but I cant sit here and argue its all sunshine

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@bfpf1159

You go to girls bars? Are you seriously having to pay a girl to talk to you?

Yes

That’s really really sad.

No

But you know what is sad?

That you dont understand the spirit of these bars!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Monty, You go to girls bars? Are you seriously having to pay a girl to talk to you?

Yes

That’s really really sad.

No

But you know what is sad?

That you dont understand the spirit of these bars!

Monty....say it isnt so and you are just joking. A

ren,t you posting almost daily about people ( mainly foreigners ) not wearing masks , using sanitizer and not following corona prevention etiquete? Surely you would not be going to girlie bars ( regardless of whatever 'spirit' they might have ) since these bars are THE kind of establishment government & experts have been urging people for weeks to specifically avoid? Say you are just kidding.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Are they going to pay bars and restaurants to shorten their hours through Dentsu?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Marcelito

You understand!

Thank you for reading and remember my posts.

But to be honest to you, before the cororona situation, I was a regular guest in a very nice Girls Bar.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I never lived in Kanto but and only visited there once. Only 200000 yen for an飲食店 for a month in Tokyo, whats that going to cover a small bill, and this goverment gave about 77 billion yen to dentsu!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I feel that had the government here advocated for a succint and focussed plan, people would have complied and we may very well be another success story.

What are you saying, didn't Abe talk about Japanese model, Aso about Japanese mindo and experts on TV talking how the virus was brought under control and only the Japanese were able to achieve such success without a Lockdown or fines.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is what being selfishness "WAGAMAMA" look like.

In the name of reviving the economy Japan is ready to dump many seniors under the bus. While the youngsters in the nightlife districts are running around spreading the deadly virus, the government is paying to carry on with COVID - Mission.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Close the media , pachinko parlours and the govt that will stop the spread of the virus media and the B S

the rest of us can carry on with our disaffected lives now.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I don't think it will help controlling the virus but I think giving money to struggling business is a good thing. Especially good when compared to dubious street mending projects.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

We will be in the 400 digits before long and it won't stop there because no one wishes to stay home on their days off traveling around, playing at water parks with kids not wearing masks and the list goes on.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

For 45 years, my Japanese wife has lived and worked with me (German) in more than 10 countries including Japan. For that I'm extremely grateful to her!

During these years, she was even given a German official passport since I was working for the German Foreign Office.

After retirement, we are presently living in Germany, my wife was immediately given permanent residency here, and a working permit, after we returned from my last post.

We pay taxes in Japan, half of our family lives there, yet we cannot return to Japan together without going through some processes that bear no logic, whatsoever.

Yes, countries have the right to determine who is entitled to enter their territory, but that does not make it right ...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@mark

the name of reviving the economy Japan is ready to dump many seniors under the bus. While the youngsters in the nightlife districts are running around spreading the deadly virus, the government is paying to carry on with COVID -

very f

You could equally argue young people are risking their health on a daily basis in trains, offices, bars and gyms to keep the economy alive.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Tis is ridiculous. The numbers are going up because they changed the testing protocol. Young healthy people are fine. And if your old and unhealthy, try taking care of yourself better.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@mark

the name of reviving the economy Japan is ready to dump many seniors under the bus. While the youngsters in the nightlife districts are running around spreading the deadly virus, the government is paying to carry on with COVID

You could equally argue young people are risking their health on a daily basis in trains, offices, bars and gyms to keep the economy alive.

While selfish people like yourself complain when the get sick, spending the money and paying the taxes which go to fund pensions, health care and day care for the elderly.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If youre a healthy child and live in Japan you have a 0% chance of dying.

If you are under 60 you have a 0.3% chance of death and lower good younger ages.

If you are in you sixties you have a 4% chance of dying. This does not take into account comorbilities which are not listed.

70s 13%

80s and above 30%

Enough with the bullying and let people decide if they want to participate in society. The planet earth is a dangerous place with all kinds of forms of death. It's a part of life. Let people live.

Did you know that hunger and famine around the world has been on the rise as well. This is due to punishing people for participating in the economy. The money doesn't flow and it doesn't get to the poorer people who need the work to eat. It's a shame people's OWN governments are punishing people who just want to work live and enjoy life.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Plenty of young people have been dying in the USA, in smaller numbers percentage wise than older people to be sure, but young people do get seriously ill and do sometimes die. More concerning perhaps is that MANY people have lingering or permanent heart damage or other chronic conditions as a result of having become infected, whether they were sick enough to warrant hospitalization or not.

Three-Quarters of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Have Heart Damage Months Later, Study Finds

Of the 100 patients studied, 78 had lingering heart damage despite being “mostly healthy … prior to their illness”

https://apple.news/A1SRs04GcQ6eqCbRSwxqsbQ

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

nonu6976Today  06:11 pm JST

The best compassion to nz is Hokaido, one major city and a lot of small towns.

To date Hokaido has seen only a hundred deaths in spite of not closing themselves off from the rest of the country, not having a month plus lockdown, and not living in fear

just tonight5000 went to see nippon ham play.

So congratulations to nz for having no cases but you have to ask if their draconian measures were needed and have achieved much beyond what your low population density woul have already achieved.

and by having zero cases you have locked yourself into and out of the rest of the world waiting for a vaccine. Which as a small country you arent going to get in the first roll out .

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Well, if there's any proof of fixed numbers. Thursday 30th Tokyo 367. Thursday 23rd Tokyo 366. Coincidence...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Three-Quarters of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Have Heart Damage Months Later, Study Finds

Dying from covid doesn't worry me so much. I've had a decent life, and I've made enough provisions that my family will be fine.

But after a life spent focusing on my health and exercise, it scares the hell out of me that I may survive covid and have to live with lung and heart problems for the rest of my life. The idea I may not be able to return to my active lifestyle for the rest of my life scares me more than death.

So I wear a mask, stay away from people as much as possible, and limit my entrance into high-risk areas (eg the supermarket) to the bare minimum. No movies, parties, or sporting events for me.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

We must learn to live (not die) with the virus, so just "Lock 'em up"! (until a vaccine works and it goes away - eventually)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Three-Quarters of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Have Heart Damage Months Later, Study Finds

Did you manage to figure out who from Germany did the studies ? Seems to me they just threw the country name there to improve credibility but forgot the details ..

Also do notice the amount of Advertisements surrounding the text in the link you posted. The whole site is full of sensational stories .

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Did you manage to figure out who from Germany did the studies ? Seems to me they just threw the country name there to improve credibility but forgot the details ..

Both the studies are linked in the article itself:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768916

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768914

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To date Hokkaido has seen only a hundred deaths in spite of not closing themselves off from the rest of the country, not having a month plus lockdown, and not living in fear

Just tonight 5000 went to see nippon ham play.

“On Sunday [June 14], 40,000-plus New Zealanders filled in the stands at Auckland's Eden Park for a game between the Auckland Blues and Wellington Hurricanes in the Super Rugby Aotearoa”:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbssports.com/general/news/new-zealand-welcomes-back-rugby-with-packed-stadiums-after-country-eradicates-coronavirus/amp/

So congratulations to NZ for having no cases but you have to ask if their draconian measures were needed and have achieved much beyond what your low population density woul have already achieved.

The population density in New Zealand is 18 per sq.Km (47 people per sq.mi). Roughly 86.9 % of the population is urban (4,191,405 people in 2020).

The population density in Brazil is 25 per sq.Km (66 people per sq.mi). 87.6 % of the population is urban (186,217,070 people in 2020).

https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

I think that population density is clearly not sufficient to eliminate the virus without additional government intervention.

and by having zero cases you have locked yourself into and out of the rest of the world waiting for a vaccine. Which as a small country you aren't going to get in the first roll out .

Again, I am not sure how this differs from every other country with closed borders at this point? It is more likely that those countries without cases will resume trade and tourism with each other before those with cases. With regard to the distribution of the vaccine, you may be right. But at least they wont be burying grandparents while they wait.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Both the studies are linked in the article itself:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768916

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768914

Even though, infections (many other too) have been recognized as significant causes of cardiac diseases for many decades now, this particular study results recommend further research needed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Monty.

i don’t understand the “spirit” of these bars?

what, the fact that these girls are paid to pretend to be interested in you and your life and just praise you while when you leave they slag you off and think you’re lame XD

sureeeeee have fun buddy!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even though, infections (many other too) have been recognized as significant causes of cardiac diseases for many decades now, this particular study results recommend further research needed.

I agree. In fact, given, as you state, that 'infections have been recognised as significant causes of cardiac diseases for many decades', I propose that while further research is being conducted into the long-term effects of a highly infectious, novel strain of virus, it would be a prudent public health and economic position to limit is spread amongst the population.

It would probably be both more ethical and ultimately less expensive than dealing with a generation shouldered with cardiac, respiratory or vascular complications from a pandemic event in their 20s.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Forget the talk about "Let's Research that", etc.. leave that to later please, Just pay me the $ (or Yen) now in order to survive this enforced Government driven directive !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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