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Starbucks stores in Japan reopen as virus spread slows

Starbucks Coffee Co. logo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Most Starbucks stores in Japan reopened Tuesday as the number of new coronavirus infections has fallen in recent weeks, with outlets in Tokyo, Osaka and some other urban areas still offering takeout services only.

    The coffee shop chain had temporarily shut stores in 13 prefectures, including Ishikawa, Aichi and Fukuoka, due to the virus pandemic and a state of emergency declared by the government.

    About 1,200 of its branches, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the total in Japan, were now open, according to Starbucks Coffee Japan Ltd.

    Stores in Tokyo, Osaka and their five surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido, which remain under the state of emergency, opened only for takeout customers with shortened opening hours until 7 p.m.

    Starbucks said the rest are providing eat-in services with precautionary measures such as keeping empty seats between guests and using paper cups and plastic cutlery, instead of mugs and stainless steel cutlery to minimize infection risks.

    The company said it will also ask customers to sanitize their hands on entry and prompt them to maintain social distance with markers on the ground.

    Before Tuesday's restart, it had been operating stores in 34 of Japan's 47 prefectures only for takeout.

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