Liquor flying off shelves where state of emergency lifted

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nobuhiko Seto of Asahiya prepares to ship out alcoholic beverages in Ota Ward, Tokyo, on Monday morning.

Many liquor shops in Tokyo, Osaka and other prefectures were seeing an uptick in sales ahead of the end of a state of emergency against the novel coronavirus. Emergency-level priority measures, which permit the sale of alcohol in eateries but under certain conditions, were implemented Monday in seven of the nine prefectures that were under the state of emergency.

“It’s been a while since so many of our employees have returned to work like this,” said Nobuhiko Seto, 38, managing director of alcohol beverage retailer Asahiya in Ota Ward, Tokyo. “The energetic atmosphere makes me glad because it feels like a return to normalcy.”

He smiled as he looked out at the employees preparing orders. About 15 of them had arrived at about 6 a.m. and starting stacking goods like kegs of beer onto trucks, which then departed for eateries that had readied their orders.

Asahiya conducts business with about 1,500 eateries, but during the state of emergency the company’s shipment volume plummeted by 70% to 80%.

But when it became known Friday afternoon that the serving of alcoholic beverages would be permitted under emergency-level priority measures, orders started pouring in. Over the weekend, about 900 of Asahiya’s clients had placed orders.

“We want to regard the lifting [of the state of emergency] positively, and overcome these hardships,” Seto said.

In Kita Ward, Osaka City, a 39-year-old owner of Take-RHY, a teppanyaki restaurant, ordered beer and other alcoholic beverages from a wholesaler in preparation of resuming the sale of alcohol.

Though it remains to be seen if his customer numbers will climb back to the level they once were, the owner said, “I want to keep this restaurant open while taking thorough measures to prevent infections.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun