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Drink up, drink fast, drink alone? Tokyo to ease alcohol curbs

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Men wearing face masks watch as giant Olympic rings, which were temporarily taken down in August for maintenance amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are transported for reinstallation at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

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FUKUSHIMA, March 25 (Reuters) - Thirsty Tokyo residents are about to get a bit of a break just as the summer heat arrives with authorities in the Japanese capital preparing to relax a ban on alcohol in restaurants and bars when it lifts a coronavirus state of emergency.

But don't plan any parties.

Tokyo will soon allow "solitary drinkers" to order alcohol between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., but keep an 8 p.m. (1100 GMT) closing time for bars and restaurants, while limiting to 90 minutes the time each customer spends on the premises, localmedia said, quoting city government sources.

Another proposal would allow up to two tipplers to gather, the Nikkei daily reported. A decision is likely later on Friday.

For the most recent state of emergency, Japan's third, authorities focused on alcohol, fearing that lowered inhibitions would lead to loud voices, lapses in hygiene and bellying up to the bar for too long, increasing the risks of aerosol contagion.

Japanese took to social media in anger at the new proposals, noting a double standard given that the 2020 Summer Olympics are set to open in just over a month despite widespread opposition.

"Some say it's unrealistic to cancel the Olympics, but for restaurants it's unrealistic to continue with restrictions," wrote one Twitter user.

"Ordinary citizens suffer restrictions, while those in power can do exactly what they want. Can we call this democracy?"

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Tom Hogue

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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