Tokyo decides to tighten COVID-19 dining restrictions

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Tokyo metropolitan government decided on Friday to strengthen its restrictions on group dining at restaurants in response to the spread of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

At its coronavirus task force meeting, the metropolitan government decided to limit group dining to up to four people in principle, down from eight at present, as part of emergency measures against the variant.

At the same time, COVID-19 vaccine certificates will be required for group dining of five or more people at eating and drinking establishments certified as having appropriate infection control measures. There will be no restrictions on the serving of alcoholic beverages at such establishments.

The new rules will be effective from Tuesday until the end of this month.

In light of a revision to the central government’s policy of hospitalizing all people infected with omicron, the metropolitan government will utilize accommodation facilities designated for people with mild or no symptoms, planning to increase the total capacity of such facilities to some 11,000 rooms.

“We must proceed [with measures] with the understanding that the battle against the coronavirus has entered a new phase,” Gov. Yuriko Koike told a press conference ahead of the task force meeting.

Last month, the metropolitan government raised the limit on group dining at certified establishments to eight people per group from four.

Meanwhile, the metropolitan government will continue asking uncertified establishments to limit group dining to four people and stop serving alcohol by 9 p.m.

Metropolitan government facilities, including zoos and an aquarium, will be closed temporarily from Tuesday except for some facilities.

The metropolitan government will continue to allow large-scale events to be held without a limit on spectator numbers on condition that organizers submit event plans. It will strengthen its examination of such event plans.

In order to improve Tokyo’s medical availability, the metropolitan government will raise the number of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients to the maximum level of 6,891.

Asked whether the metropolitan government will seek the application of COVID-19 pre-emergency measures to the capital, Koike said that it will act appropriately after listening to the opinions of experts and others.