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The government’s new program to provide one-off cash benefits of up to ¥400,000 to pandemic-affected small companies will cover not only suppliers for eating and drinking facilities but also ryokan Japanese-style inns and taxi operators, the industry ministry has said.

The program was devised following the government’s recent declaration of a new state of emergency over the novel coronavirus now covering Tokyo and 10 other prefectures.

The government hopes to start the payments as soon as March, after finding a business operator to serve as the project’s secretariat and establishing related systems.

Eligible for the relief will be businesses whose sales fell by 50% or more in January or February from the year-before levels.

The aid scheme will give small and midsize firms up to ¥400,000 and self-employed people up to ¥200,000.

It will cover suppliers across the country dealing directly or indirectly with drinking and eating establishments in the areas placed under the emergency declaration.

Business operators in such areas that were affected by voluntary restrictions on going out will also be eligible for the new benefit program.

The ministry plans to ask applicants to submit last year’s income tax reports, copies of sales ledgers for this month or next month and documents stating that shorter operating hours and voluntary restrictions on going out requested under the emergency are affecting them.

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