Japan will launch its “Go To Eat” campaign this month following subcommittee approval granted last Friday, provided precautionary measures regarding the coronavirus pandemic are met, according to The Japan Times.
“The campaign will be launched in stages starting in the middle of or late September,” Minister of Economic Revitalization Yasutoshi Nishimura said. Only prefectures with a sufficiently low COVID case count would be allowed to partake in the campaign.
The food and beverage industry has seen heavy losses this year, especially with Tokyo having endured its second wave of cases last month. Sales have dipped to new lows in Japan’s restaurants and bars, standing at a mere 10% fraction of previous year’s revenue, according to an August report.
The Go to Eat campaign aims to lend a helping hand to the hampered F&B industry. Aiming to stimulate demand through subsidised costs, the campaign has two components: discount vouchers and point-based rewards.
Diners will be offered discounts of up to 25% valid until the end of March 2021, whilst a newly implemented reward-points system will give customers a return of JPY 500 – 1000 (USD 4.70 – 9.41) for online reservations. Travel agencies such as JTB and Japan Travel will be the authorised sellers of the discount vouchers, which will be available until the end of January 2021.
From late July to early August, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) has recruited organisations and restaurants to participate in the campaign. As of 3 September, there were 35 eateries across 33 prefectures in participation.
However, in order to balance the risk of contagion, the subcommittee panel has recommended the discount meal coupons only be issued in areas where the state of the pandemic is deemed to be sufficiently safe.
Although Japan formally exited its nationwide ‘state of emergency’ status by the end of May, the country has recently faced a resurgence in case infections – 9,672 new cases were reported in the last 2 weeks, according to Google Statistics.
Based on factors such as the number of new patients per 100,000 residents or the occupancy rate of patients at hospitals, the government will assign each prefecture a ‘stage’ ranging from 1 to 4. The campaign will only be allowed to run in areas classed as Stage 1 or 2. Health and safety measures will also be taken in accordance with industry guidelines, as social distancing measures remain in place, continuing to limit restaurant capacity.
The Go To Eat campaign marks the government’s latest attempt to revitalise Japan’s crippled economy, which saw its sharpest GDP contraction (27.8%) on record this financial quarter amid the pandemic. Japan has promised to deliver the world’s largest virus-response stimulus package, with government spending to total a staggering JPY 234 trillion (USD 2.2 trillion).