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Japan’s new COVID-19 restrictions take effect


Japan’s new COVID-19 restrictions take effect

Japan COVID-19
Photo: Reuters/Issel Kato

A new law takes effect in Japan today with penalties for individuals and businesses violating the government’s public health measures as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In areas under a state of emergency, infected people resisting hospitalisation will be fined up to approximately $4,760. Businesses refusing the government’s orders to shorten their hours will be fined up to approximately $2,865. The new measures are necessary since Japan’s previous laws did not provide any legal penalties to violators and failed to contain the latest outbreaks.

While necessary, the new law may create more work for public health and law enforcement officers, who are required to collect evidence and decide on how much fine for an offence. It may also threaten business confidence, which was negative at -10 (manufacturers) and -5 (non-manufacturers) in the fourth quarter of 2020, reflecting business perspectives on the current trends; zero indicates neutrality.

Japan’s regulatory reform minister suggested another stimulus package after the most recent boost in December 2020. However, with the public debt more than 2.5 times annual output, expect the government to work on more sustainable policies, including promoting tax incentives, reforming the bureaucracy and loosening the labour market to rescue the economy.

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Photo: Niall Carson / Associated Press

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