Tokyo Eateries Aiming for Survival under Virus Emergency

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, Jan. 26 (Jiji Press)--Restaurants and bars in Tokyo, which is under a fresh coronavirus state of emergency issued by the Japanese government, are racking their brains for new ideas for survival, such as targeting solo customers.

At Bar Zikkai, a book cafe and bar in the posh Ginza district, where some 3,000 books are on display, solo customers were seen silently reading books over alcoholic and other beverages.

Since the new state of emergency over the novel coronavirus took effect on Jan. 8 in the Japanese capital and three neighboring prefectures, the store has been focusing more on solo customers and rejecting entry by groups of three or more people in principle. A pair of visitors are asked to sit separately and refrain from talking, except when making orders.

"I want to reduce the infection risk for my staff," Haruna Hijikata, the 32-year-old manager of Bar Zikkai, said while noting that the store previously had "a lively atmosphere with its employees and customers enjoying conversations."

"Our customers include many who come alone, and we adopted a strategy to enable solo customers to read books more comfortably," Hijikata said. Bar Zikkai stops serving alcoholic drinks at 7 p.m. and close at 8 p.m. during the period of the state of emergency, which is slated to run until Feb. 7, accepting the Tokyo metropolitan government's request for eating and drinking establishments not to operate after 8 p.m. The state of emergency was expanded later to cover seven more prefectures.

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