Firms Across Japan Cut Hours, Suspend Operations After Emergency Coronavirus Declaration Expanded

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The number of retail shops and restaurants that will temporarily close or have reduced business hours is increasing after the government expanded its declaration of a state of emergency to all 47 prefectures in Japan as the new coronavirus continues to spread.

Many companies have already taken such measures in the seven prefectures under the initial declaration, but are now applying them nationwide.

DCM Holdings Co., which operates Homac and other home improvement store chains, has decided in principle to close its stores nationwide at 7 p.m., about one to two hours earlier than usual, as it had already done for stores in the first seven prefectures.

“While striving to ensure a stable supply of daily necessities and emergency supplies, we are also working hard to prevent the infection [from spreading],” an official of the company said.

Two major home electrical appliance retail chains, Yamada Denki and K’s Denki, have also shortened their business hours to close at 7 p.m.
Skylark Holdings Co., which operates a number of restaurant chains, has shortened its closing time for about 3,000 shops nationwide to 8 p.m., focusing on home delivery and other services.

Major izakaya Japanese-style pub chains have already applied temporary closures or reduced operating hours in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The operators said they will decide what to do with their establishments outside the area by following instructions from respective local governments.

Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing store chain, has already closed its busier stores in downtown districts, while others in suburban areas remain open with reduced business hours.

“We will decide [how to respond to the nationwide declaration of a state of emergency] depending on what requests local governments will make,” an official of the company said.

The move to close department stores has spread nationwide.
Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. has closed its Matsuzakaya Nagoya store except for the food section. However, starting from Saturday, the store decided to close entirely on weekends. Meanwhile, the Daimaru Sapporo store followed suit starting on Sunday.

Sogo & Seibu Co. has closed its 15 stores by Saturday, except for the food section. The operator plans to reopen them when the declaration is lifted.

Movie theaters, pachinko parlors and karaoke facilities are among businesses that may be asked to suspend operations by local governments, which will apply similar measures such as the one taken by the Tokyo metropolitan government. Shochiku Co., a major movie theater operator, on Saturday expanded the scope of temporary closures to its facilities nationwide.

Even under the state of emergency, the government has requested that stores that provide daily necessities continue to operate. In principle, this request is applied to supermarkets, convenience stores and drug stores.
Aeon Co., a major retailer, temporarily closed specialty shops at about 150 of its shopping malls nationwide, but the supermarket sections will remain open.

Companies plan to expand the scope of telecommuting to areas outside the seven prefectures subject to the initial declaration of a state of emergency.

“We will thoroughly implement measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as by reducing the number of employees commuting and strongly promoting telecommuting,” said Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), in a statement released Friday.

Hitachi Ltd., for which Nakanishi serves as chairman, will have about 160,000 employees across the country — including those at group companies — work from home, in principle.

Honda Motor Co., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Nippon Steel Corp. will also expand telecommuting nationwide.

Mazda Motor Corp. plans to reduce the use of public transportation for 17,000 employees working at its head office and its factories in Hiroshima Prefecture, according to the company’s public relations department.
Toshiba Corp. is closing all domestic branches, including its head office and plants, from Monday through May 6.

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. will also close about 1,200 branches and offices nationwide from Monday through May 6, and about 30,000 of its sales staff will refrain from conducting door-to-door sales.

Major construction company Kajima Corp. plans to suspended construction at about 700 locations nationwide, in principle. Obayashi Corp. has expanded suspensions nationwide at construction sites. Daiwa House Industry Co. will suspend construction at about 3,500 sites nationwide, including houses and condominiums, as much as possible through May 10.


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