Cabinet Approves Draft Bills To Tackle Virus

Cabinet approves draft bills to tackle virus

Japan's Cabinet has approved a set of draft bills aimed at helping the country tackle the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively.

Proposals to revise the special anti-coronavirus law, the infectious disease control law and the quarantine law were approved at the Cabinet meeting on Friday.

The draft revisions include penalties for businesses and individuals that refuse to comply with anti-virus measures.

The draft revision to the special anti-coronavirus law gives greater authority to prefectural governors even before the central government declares a state of emergency.

Governors would be allowed to ask businesses to change their operating hours. If they refuse, the governors would then order them to comply. They would also be allowed to conduct on-site inspections.

Businesses that fail to comply with an order could face a maximum fine of about 5,000 dollars under a state of emergency, and up to about 3,000 dollars if a declaration has not been made. Those who refuse on-site inspections could be subject to a maximum fine of about 2,000 dollars.

The draft revision also stipulates that the central and local governments will offer financial aid to businesses affected by shorter operating hours.

The bill for the infectious disease law includes new stipulations that would allow governors to request infected people to stay at designated accommodations.

If people refuse, governors can recommend they be admitted to a hospital. If they still fail to comply, they can be jailed for up to a year or be given a maximum fine of about 10,000 dollars.

The bill also allows the health minister and governors to urge medical institutions to accept virus patients. If they fail to do so without proper reasons, the names of such institutions can be made public.

The draft revision to the quarantine law would allow officials to ask people arriving in Japan from abroad to self-quarantine for 14 days in principle. Those who fail to comply with the request could face imprisonment of up to a year or a maximum fine of about 10,000 dollars.

The government hopes to have the draft bills enacted by the Diet early next month.