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Reselling of masks for profit to be punished in Japan amid coronavirus outbreak

/ 04:19 PM March 12, 2020

People wearing protective face masks cross a street in Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Image: AP/Koji Sasahara

The Japanese government will soon be punishing those who resell surgical masks for profit as several nations face shortages of sanitary items amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Violators will be facing one year in prison or a one million yen (around P492,000) fine – or even both – when caught by Japanese authorities, as per Kyodo News on March 10.

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This will be implemented via the revision of a law enacted to stabilize public living conditions in response to the panic-buying situation during the 1973 oil crisis.

Reselling face masks for the same price or even lower is reportedly still allowed, however, according to an official of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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“We want to ensure that the average consumer can get their hands on masks,” the official was quoted as saying.

The Japanese government’s move to implement the rule comes as panic-buying due to the COVID-19 outbreak has led to shortages of sanitary items, such as surgical masks, hand sanitizers, alcohol and the like.

The inclusion of products other than face masks to the said rule may be added later, according to the report. This rule will be lifted once the demand for these products returns to normal.

Japan has so far recorded 568 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, as of yesterday, March 11. There are 118,326 recorded cases worldwide while 4,292 people have died.

Shortages for such products are also being experienced in other parts of the world as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate. In Australia, a man was caught reselling toilet paper for A$100 (around P3,300) per roll while the government and manufacturers scramble to provide a solution to the shortage.

In the Philippines, Malacañang has already warned citizens that they may be arrested for hoarding basic and key commodities.

The Department of Trade and Industry has set the limit to a maximum of two bottles each of alcohol and hand sanitizer per buyer, it announced earlier today, March 12. Officials also reiterated the strict implementation of the 60-day price freeze to merchants and traders for all basic commodities. Ian Biong

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