Several prefectures in Japan including Tokyo, the capital city of the country, were under a state of emergency due to a hike in COVID-19 cases.
A temporary ban on alcohol sales is part of the measures implemented to curb the spread of the virus. However, the on-trade sector is opposing this scientifically proven solution to contain COVID-19.

Japan’s state of emergency is set to lift for nine prefectures including for Tokyo ahead of the Olympic Games. The Games will begin on July 23, 2021.

During the state of emergency Japan implemented a temporary alcohol sales ban to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The fine for non-compliance was set at ¥300,000.

The temporary alcohol sales ban was opposed by the on-trade sector, despite the subsidies offered by the government. The ban was one of several measures including an earlier closing time of 8:00 PM. The Japanese government offered daily subsidies for restaurants of between ¥40,000 (£258) and ¥200,000 (£1,292) depending on the establishment’s size.

In May, Global-Dining, a large restaurant chain based in Tokyo filed a lawsuit against the metropolitan government against the temporary alcohol sales ban.

With lifting of the state of emergency to a quasi-emergency state alcohol sales will again be allowed till 7:00 PM. However, local authorities can maintain the temporary ban and other COVID-19 measures if they deem it necessary.

The Japanese governement’s decision to temporarily ban alcohol sales and have early closing times is in accordance with advice by the World Health Organization, latest research and community needs.

Japanese health experts have pointed out the heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission when groups of people sit in confined, poorly ventilated spaces and remove their masks to eat, consume alcohol and chat.

The World Health Organization’s recommended early on in the pandemic to reduce availability of alcohol during COVID-19 lockdowns.

A recent groundbreaking report revealed the lethal interaction alcohol has with the ongoing pandemic.

  1. Alcohol increases the health and societal problems arising from the pandemic. For example, alcohol weakens the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infections. And alcohol-centric social contexts have been COVID-19 super spreader events. 
  2. Alcohol increases the burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already stretched due to the COVID-19.
  3. The alcohol industry exploits the pandemic to change alcohol laws to their private benefit.

Source Website: The Guardian