Amid Olympics, Tokyo restaurant owners struggle with COVID-19 restrictions



TOKYO — For the first time since January, the rolling seven-day average of positive COVID-19 cases is over 1,500. While Tokyo continues to be in its fourth state of emergency some restaurant owners feel they are the ones left taking the hit as other businesses return to normal.
As much of the world sees joy and jubilation as athletes reach their sport’s pinnacle, restaurant owners in Japan feel different.

“Absolute disaster,” said Mark Spencer, the owner of three Tokyo restaurants, including the Hobgoblin British Pub.

“The coffee shops are open. Department stores are open. Disneyland is open. All these kind of places are open and they only seem to focus on bars and restaurants,” said Spencer, “I think it’s a bit unfair.”

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While the International Olympic committee could rake in an estimated $4 billion in revenue from the Olympics, Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency leaves Mark’s businesses unable to serve alcohol and forced to close by 8:00 p.m.

Spencer said, “When you are primarily 60% of your sales is alcohol it’s obviously a huge impact.”
Spencer also said restrictions of no fans during the Olympics have left residents confused and seem contradictory.

“The opening night of the Olympics there was a baseball stadium literally 500 meters away from the Olympic Stadium and that had a crowd in there,” said Spencer.

Despite the setbacks, Spencer said with 20 percent of Japanese adults fully vaccinated science is creating a positive reaction.

“I can see hope now most of my friends have all been vaccinated most of my customers have been vaccinated, three months ago that wasn’t the case.”

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