TOKYO -- More than 11,000 bars and restaurants in Japan have applied for a temporary license for liquor takeout, designed to help ease the blow of the coronavirus outbreak on business.
Japan has declared a state of emergency that could last until at least June as a way to slow the spread of the virus. Under the state emergency, people has been asked to stay at home and all non-essential businesses have been asked to make adjustments, such as limiting hours or closing completely.
"Takeout sales have jumped 20% since we got the green light to sell wine," said Masaki Suganuma, who operates M's Dining, a Tokyo bistro chain focused on Japanese wines.
Japan's restaurants and bars are usually not allowed to serve alcohol for customers to take home, but the government has decided to grant an exception for a limited time amid pressure from business groups.
The National Tax Agency had received roughly 11,400 applications as of Saturday, including from big national chains. About 7,800 have already received the license, which is good for six-months.
M's Dining prices its wines about 20% higher than those at liquor stores, but its takeout option has been very popular with its customers. "We have a wider selection than retailers and can recommend different wines to pair with different dishes," Suganuma said.
The chain halted dinner service starting April 6 after the government declared a state of emergency, which cut its revenue by 80%. Suganuma submitted an application on April 10.