Photo/Illutration Matsuya Ginza Department Store in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward opened its beer garden on June 28, while urging its customers there to wear face masks as much as possible. (Masaki Hashida)

The suds were flowing again at Matsuya Ginza Department Store's beer garden on June 28 in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, back open after being canceled last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the good times were not rolling as usual, with shorter hours, reduced seats and other anti-virus measures in place. 

“Business hours are restricted, so it's difficult to make profits,” said a Matsuya Ginza representative. “Many customers asked us to reopen the beer garden, so we did it so that we could make business better next year.”

The decision over whether to open beer gardens lies with individual department stores.

Department stores in the capital operating beer gardens have been split on whether to open them this year, with Isetan Shinjuku's Main Store and Keio Department Store Shinjuku opting not to do so, while Nihombashi Mitsukoshi's Main Store and Tobu Department Store Ikebukuro are opening them.

At Matsuya Ginza Department Store's beer garden, the number of seats was cut to 60 percent. Customers must make reservations to get seats at the establishment, which is open from 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and serves alcoholic beverages until 7 p.m.

Customers there are urged to wear facial masks as much as possible to prevent droplet infections from spreading.

The beer garden has created a one-person service plan and has added more kinds of non-alcoholic beverages.

Customers are given face masks when they enter the beer garden and staff offer dishes to them separately. A set of long chopsticks and tongs is provided for each customer. Sharing drinks is prohibited.