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Osaka Prefecture will launch an initiative aimed at promoting food delivery services as residents are urged to stay at home amid the coronavirus epidemic, Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said Thursday.

Under the scheme, which will begin as early as next week, Osaka residents who use cashless payment methods when using such delivery services will be rewarded with points. The program will run through May 6.

Users will earn points worth ¥500 for every transaction of ¥1,000 or more for food delivery services. The reward points will be paid for by the prefecture and by delivery service operators.

The prefectural government will set aside some ¥150 million in costs related to the program in its supplementary budget.

The application period for delivery service operators wishing to participate in the program will run through Monday.

Aspiring operators must have 2,000 or more affiliated stores, including independent businesses, for whom they will deliver food. They must also be compatible with cashless payment methods and have sufficient measures to prevent delivery personnel from becoming infected with the coronavirus.

"It's tiring to prepare meals every day," Yoshimura told reporters at the prefectural government office. "We'll support people's everyday meals by strongly supporting food deliveries."

"It's also an economic measure to help the dining industry," he added.

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