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SW Japan city restaurants go al fresco to beat coronavirus

Staff are seen setting terrace seating outside eateries on a street in the southwestern Japan city of Fukuoka on Oct. 9, 2020. (Mainichi/Sayo Kato)

FUKUOKA -- Restaurants in three areas of this southwestern Japan city literally hit the streets on Oct. 9, deploying terrace seating to lure diners to their tables at the same time as beating the spread of the coronavirus.

    The move comes thanks to efforts by the municipal government and prefectural police to relax regulations on permits to occupy road and sidewalk space, based on a national government notice. The exceptional measure will be in place until Nov. 30 at the latest. Using outside helps avoid the "three Cs" of confined spaces, crowded places and close contact that increase transmission risk.

    On Oct. 9, terrace seating was set up outside establishments along Aji no Michikusa street in the Tamagawamachi district of Fukuoka's Minami Ward, Ningyocho street in the Nakasu district of the city's Hakata Ward, and the Minato Ginza shopping area in Chuo Ward's Minato district.

    Staff from five participating restaurants brought seats out onto Aji no Michikusa street from 5 p.m. Keisuke Yamada, 41, who manages the eatery Ganso Yorimichi Yokocho and other establishments, said that he closed from April 1 to May 22 because of the pandemic. During this period, he refurbished the interior and took measures to prevent infection such as placing disinfectant on each table and preparing to check customers' temperatures.

    Despite cutting the number of seats by more than a third for the reopening, Yamada says his earnings have actually increased compared to before the coronavirus crisis. Yamada, who approached the municipal government and other bodies regarding the terrace seating, said, "Taking proper measures has helped earn trust. The terrace seating widens possibilities for us."

    (Japanese original by Sayo Kato, Kyushu News Department)

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