September 17, 2021

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The ban on alcohol in Japanese restaurants sets aside the new Covid-19 emergency

The ban on alcohol in Japanese restaurants sets aside the new Covid-19 emergency


TOKYO: Japan is pinpointing alcohol consumption in bars and restaurants in a new state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures, a response that highlights experts’ belief that alcohol can help accelerate Covid transmission. 19.
The move is a departure for Japan, which has not imposed specific limits on alcohol in two previous pandemic emergency statements.
“When alcohol is involved, people’s voices get a lot bigger,” said Makoto Tsubokura, who leads a team from research giant Riken and Kobe University that uses supercomputers to model infection situations.
Loud rumors, as well as declines in hygiene and a tendency to linger at the bar, have contributed to increasing the risk of aerosol contagion, Tsubokura added.
Under the state of emergency from April 25 to May 11, the government will require the closure of restaurants, bars and karaoke rooms serving alcohol in designated prefectures, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.
Social encounters with drinking are situations the government is focusing on with its new guidelines, according to Makoto Shimoaraiso, a government official leading Japan’s response to the pandemic. The scientific mechanism of the infection needs further research, he added.
Much of the country had already undergone infection control measures that included shorter working hours and guidelines to separate restaurant patrons from acrylic walls.
While the economy suffered from the pandemic, restaurants and bars were hit particularly hard. Global-Dining Inc, the operator of more than 40 restaurants, said Friday it will not comply with the government’s request to shorten hours unless instructed to do so.
The company sued the Tokyo metropolitan government last month, claiming its infection control measures were unfair and unscientific. Restaurant chains Saizeriya Co and Skylark Holdings Co said they would remain open in compliance with the alcohol ban, the Nikkei newspaper reported Friday.
Most health experts say that general adherence to hygiene norms and social distances have helped Japan keep overall COVID-19 cases and deaths relatively low, without the kind of stiff blockages seen in other countries.
In April last year, the World Health Organization warned that alcohol could dampen the immune response to COVID-19. But it’s unclear whether the act of drinking itself helps spread the virus.
“Alcohol is potentially a physical risk to the person due to an increased risk of droplet aspiration,” said Jason Tetro, an infectious disease specialist based in Edmonton, Canada. “But it is more of a social risk as it reduces adherence to prevention techniques due to intoxication.”