Japan to punish reselling of masks for profit with year in prison, ¥1 million fine — or both

An employee packs repiratory protective face masks on an assembly line at the Valmy protective mask manufacturer plant in Mably, central France, on February 28, 2020, amid the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. - The spread of the new coronavirus to Europe has boosted the activity of Valmy, one of the French protective face mask manufacturers, with the number of employees in the production plant and warehouse rising from around 20 to 60 in the past month. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP) (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images)

Source : Japan Times

The reselling of face masks for profit will become a crime punishable by a one-year prison term or a ¥1 million ($9,800) fine — or both — as demand surged amid the growing coronavirus epidemic, the government said Tuesday.

The new rule, aimed at preventing would-be profiteers from taking advantage of a nationwide shortage of the masks, will take effect March 15.

Reselling face masks at the same price they were purchased for, or at lower prices, will still be allowed, a trade ministry official said, stressing that the rule is not meant to keep people from distributing them to friends and family.

“We want to ensure that the average consumer can get their hands on masks,” the official said.

The rule will be implemented through a revision to a law enacted in response to panic-buying during the 1973 oil crisis.

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