COVID-19 “vaccine discount” for customers catches on at eateries, hotels

El Passo

Restaurants, hotels and even wedding venues have begun offering discounts to customers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as part of efforts to jumpstart the economy following the pandemic. While the efforts may promote more people to get vaccinated, some warn such discounts could lead to peer pressure against […]

Restaurants, hotels and even wedding venues have begun offering discounts to customers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as part of efforts to jumpstart the economy following the pandemic.

While the efforts may promote more people to get vaccinated, some warn such discounts could lead to peer pressure against people who are reluctant to receive the vaccine.

Photo taken on July 13, 2021, shows Toshiyuki Fujimura, deputy manager of a “yakiniku” grilled meat restaurant in Nagoya, central Japan, who is giving discounts to customers who show proof they have been vaccinated. (Kyodo)

“I want things to return to pre-pandemic days as quickly as possible,” said Toshiyuki Fujimura, the 54-year-old deputy manager of a “yakiniku” grilled meat restaurant in Nagoya, central Japan, which is giving up to 3,000 yen ($27) off set meals to customers who show proof of vaccination.

Yuka Torii, a 47-year-old midwife, was happy to use the discount, saying the initiative will act as an incentive for more people to get vaccinated and “make the world a little better.”

The tourist federation of Fujikawaguchiko, a town in Yamanashi Prefecture nearby Mt. Fuji, also started offering discounts at 30 of its member stores for fully vaccinated individuals. The offers include 10 percent off facility fees as well as food and beverage expenses.

“Our aim is to encourage more people to come for sightseeing and to get vaccinated,” a staff member said.

Photo taken on July 13, 2021, shows a proof-of-vaccination paper at a “yakiniku” grilled meat restaurant in Nagoya, central Japan, which is giving discounts to customers who can prove they have been vaccinated. (Kyodo) 

Unzen Onsen Azumaen, a “ryokan” traditional Japanese inn in Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, has been distributing coupons for use at its on-site shop to those vaccinated.

The discounts have helped increase reservations gradually after the lodging had to be temporarily closed at one point following the outbreak of the virus, it said.

Meanwhile, the Garden Place Kobayashiro, a wedding hall in Niigata Prefecture, has launched a cashback program where newlyweds can receive 3,000 yen back for each attending guest who has been vaccinated.

Yusuke Nakada and Saki Inozume, who plan to hold their wedding in September, said that about a third of their invitation list would be eligible for the service.

“We have a lot of elderly relatives, so this will give us peace of mind,” the couple, both 26, said with a smile.

Meanwhile, a certain number of people remain reluctant to take the vaccine due to wariness over possible side effects and risks, and concerns have arisen that such discounts could lead to people getting vaccinated simply out of peer pressure.

Goodluck Promotion Co., a concert planning company based in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan, said it does not openly advertise its cashback program for those vaccinated due to the “various opinions” around.

Supplied image shows a promotion for vaccination discounts. (Photo courtesy of Goodluck Promotion Co.)(Kyodo)

In late July, local governments began accepting applications for so-called vaccine passports certifying people who travel abroad as inoculated against COVID-19, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has maintained a cautious stance about using them within Japan due to concerns they will cause “unfair discrimination.”

“Vaccination is based on an individual’s free will,” said Kenta Yamada, a professor of media law and journalism at Senshu University. “We must not create a society where those who do not get vaccinated feel guilty or lose out. We need to be careful not to encourage peer pressure through vaccine discount programs.”

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