As many businesses in Japan experience dwindling customer numbers due to social distancing limitations, with some having to shut down entirely, local community and government initiatives are stepping up to assist bars and restaurants that are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Public shows their support with crowdfunding contributions
Crowdfunding projects are being set up across the country to help restaurants stay in business despite the drastic decline in custom because of social distancing precautions put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Around 80 per cent of Japan’s restaurants reported a significant drop in sales this February compared to this time last year. And now with a monthlong national state of emergency in place, the situation is expected to get much worse, according to a foundation supporting small businesses.
A local advertising agency in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, started a crowdfunding project which is supported by Kashiwa City Hall to help more than 100 eateries in the area.
As of Tuesday, a generous ¥13 million had been collected from almost 1,200 individuals
Looking to the future: Planning for meals out in better times
People who are interested in contributing to the crowdfunding campaign can either purchase tickets, which entitle them to meals at their restaurant of choice when the coronavirus threat is under control, or make donations above ¥30,000 via credit card through an online site linked to the city’s website. The meal tickets available range from ¥3,000 to ¥10,000.
The project is scheduled to run until May 10, after which the money raised will be distributed to the eateries. As of Tuesday, a generous ¥13 million had been collected from almost 1,200 individuals. It is hoped that people will be able to use their meal tickets between June and November.
“If our eateries sector doesn’t fare well, it will affect others like our processing and agricultural industries,” said a city official who is overseeing the project. “We hope that it will spur customers to dine out after the situation over the coronavirus calms down.”
Changes to licensing laws permit takeout alcohol sales
The government amended licensing laws for restaurants and bars to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery to help those suffering under the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To implement the decision, the National Tax Agency has introduced a six-month alcohol-sales license and is currently accepting applications. The deadline for applicants wishing to avail of the new license is June 30.
In Tokyo, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency to contain the outbreak, the metropolitan government requested that bars and restaurants stop serving alcoholic drinks by 7 p.m. and close by 8 p.m. However, the aim of the request does not include takeout or delivery services.
Are there any special measures in place in your area to help struggling businesses? Please let us know in the comment section below.
"Otsumami" - a bite size snack:
Seeing people come together to help those struggling is a testament to human kindness in these difficult times.