New policy goes into place ahead of Japan’s spring vacation period.

There’re some surprising gaps in how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting life in Japan. In some ways, it’s brought big changes that mirror those in other countries, like an ongoing mask shortage, the cancellation of major events, and postponement of movies releases.

But one thing that hasn’t been nearly as affected is people’s abilities to eat in restaurants. Granted, a lot of people are voluntarily choosing to eat at home these days, but restaurants that want to stay open are allowed to do so, and not just for take-out orders, as in-restaurant dining has yet to be legally barred by the Japanese government.

However, McDonald’s Japan is now taking it upon itself to institute such changes at a number of its locations. From April 20, 1,910 of the chain’s restaurants will cease offering eat-in service and will only be providing meals to-go or via home delivery orders. The affected restaurants are located in Tokyo (350 affected restaurants) and the prefectures of Kanagawa (230), Chiba (160), Saitama (180), Kyoto (80), Osaka (240), Hyogo (150), Aichi (190), Fukuoka (90), Hokkaido (90), Ibaraki (80), Ishikawa (30), and Gifu (40).

Prior to the new policy, McDonald’s had restricted in-restaurant dining at certain branches between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., and had also closed certain branches entirely in response to the coronavirus outbreak. While the no-eat-in rule doesn’t apply to all of the roughly 2,900 branches the chain has in Japan, it does affect the majority of them. Eat-in service is to be suspended at the branches through at least May 6, which keep customers from dining in the restaurants for the official duration of Japan’s Golden Week spring holiday.

While the change means certain lonely SoraNews24 writers will have to find a new place to hold their one-person parties, hopefully this will help flatten Japan’s coronavirus curve, and at least we can take heart in knowing that McDonald’s Japan’s still offers its free smiles as part of its delivery orders.

Sources: McDonald’s, Nihon Keizai Shmbun via Jin
Photos ©SoraNews24
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