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Coronavirus

Japan to seek contact information from those enjoying nightlife

Guidelines aim to prevent coronavirus hot spots at hostess bars and other venues

People wearing masks are seen in Kabukicho, a popular entertainment district in Tokyo, on May 4. (Photo by Kei Higuchi)

TOKYO -- Japan plans to issue guidelines for night spots, such as hostess bars and host clubs, where close contact is part of the job. Venues will ask customers to provide contact information so that authorities can trace those who have come in close contact with an infected person in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

Nikkei learned the details of the guidelines on Wednesday. The government plans to issue the directive before June 19, the date when the request to suspend business at such entertainment establishments is to be lifted.

The guidelines will apply to cabarets, host clubs and "snack" bars. Employees and customers typically sit in close quarters at such places, raising concerns that they will become a source of new infections.

The guidelines will be drawn up by an industry group and published by the government, which will request compliance. Although guidelines have no enforcement provisions, venues will be able to present them to customers as a "nationwide measure," which authorities hope will make them easier to implement. Establishments will retain the contact information for six months. Customers who refuse to provide the information may be refused service.

The guidelines will also stipulate that night spots should limit access to avoid the "three Cs": closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings. The rules call for a venue to display seating availability information inside and outside the venue. They also advise that the number of customers should be limited to 50% of normal capacity and kept 1 to 2 meters apart.

Customers will be asked to have their temperatures measured, with those running a fever denied entry. Those who are from countries or regions that have had restrictions on entering Japan over the previous 14 days and those who have had close contact with such people may also be refused service.

Employees and customers will be asked to wear masks and face shields, and to avoid passing around drinks. Those singing karaoke will be asked to wear masks, with microphones disinfected every 30 minutes.

Counter seats will be separated by acrylic barriers and clear plastic curtains. The guidelines will also request that employees refrain from singing or dancing with customers, or giving live performances near them.

Separate guidelines for nightclubs will also be issued. In addition to asking customers to submit contact information, they will specify that the volume of music be lowered to discourage people from talking loudly and spreading droplets.

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