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Japan will now allow restaurants to use public sidewalks for outdoor seating

Restaurants and cafés will be able to offer terrace-style outdoor seating on footpaths until the end of November

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

On June 5, the Japanese government announced that in order to help businesses serve customers safely in the midst of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, restaurants will be allowed to make use of the pavement in front of their stores. This means restaurants and cafés can now provide terrace-style seating for outdoor eating and drinking, while avoiding overcrowding indoors. Although outdoor seating is common in many Western countries, this new policy is unprecedented in Japan, where even getting permission to set up signs on a public street is usually a long and arduous process. 

This relaxed policy, which will last until November 30, will include takeaway shops as well as restaurants, all of which are struggling with fewer diners due to social distancing. Formal notice must still be given to make use of the roads and pavements, but restaurant owners will not have to apply themselves. Instead, local councils will be responsible for managing road usage in their own districts. 

Restaurants will be able to use the additional space for free, on condition that they help clean up their street at the end of every business day. The restaurant must also respect government safety protocols for preventing the spread of coronavirus, which includes adhering to social distancing rules. The business operators must secure enough space so that passersby can maintain a distance of at least 2 metres, or 3.5 metres on a crowded street.

More information on the new policy is available here (Japanese only).

Can't wait to eat outside? See our guide on going out safely in Japan.

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