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Japan drops COVID restrictions on bars and restaurants nationwide

Tokyo pub owners both happy and cautious about what comes next

Masks still on, pedestrians crowd the streets in Shibuya on March 21. (Photo by Kai Fujii)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government lifted coronavirus restrictions throughout the country on Monday, ending what were officially voluntary limits on business hours that had hit the dining industry hard.

Tokyo and 17 other prefectures will no longer be subject to so-called quasi-emergency measures that let local officials ask bars and restaurants to close early, take in fewer guests and stop serving alcoholic beverages.

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