Japan govt can now impose fines over breaching curbs

Japan’s lower house of Parliament has approved bills making it possible for the government to impose fines on people and businesses for violation of the restrictions imposed against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initial plans to introduce prison sentences for Covid-19 patients in Japan refusing to be hospitalised were abandoned last week by ruling and main opposition parties following criticism that the punishment was too severe, reports Xinhua news agency.

Under a new agreement between the ruling and main opposition party which was approved on Monday, Covid-19 patients who refuse hospitalization could soon face fines of up to 500,000 yen, while those who do not comply with health officials’ surveys could be fined up to 300,000 yen.

Previous plans were also to introduce fines of up to 500,000 yen for businesses that refuse to shorten their opening hours and close earlier under a state of emergency, and up to 300,000 yen for businesses not under a state of emergency but where anti-virus requests have been made by local prefectures.

The fines have now been lowered to 300,000 yen and 200,000 yen, respectively.

The lowered fines along with the other revisions to the infectious disease law and the coronavirus special measures law will be enacted by the upper house of parliament on Wednesday.

Under the state of emergency that is now set to be extended, restaurants and bars have been ordered to close by 8 p.m. and people asked to refrain from making unnecessary trips outdoors, especially in the evenings.

The government has also urged people to work from home and large events will have their capacity capped.

Japan is still grappling to bring the virus’ spread under control.

On Monday, 1,792 new infections were reported across the country, bringing the nation’s total tally of cases to 392,475.

The country’s death toll has now risen to a total of 5,846, according to the latest statistics.

The Tokyo metropolitan government on Monday reported 393 new confirmed cases, with the capital city’s cumulative total of infections rising to 100,234.

Health officials in the capital of 14 million said that 133 hospitalized patients are designated as being in a “serious condition”.