Japan’s plan to revive the virus-battered economy: Give every single man, woman and child $927
Japan is moving to adopt an emergency package worth a whopping $1 trillion — equal to one-fifth its GDP — to cope with economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite pushback within the conservative ruling party, Tokyo dumped a more targeted relief plan at the eleventh hour in favor of one-off, universal cash handouts of ¥100,000 ($927) for each of its 126 million citizens, including children.
“The package is huge in size, and will be fast-implemented,” said Martin Schulz, chief policy economist for Fujitsu Research Institute, hailing the decision.
If parliament enacts the plan as expected around May 1, money could start flowing by the end of the month. “Those who need it will get it, and better-off households will spend also,” Shulz said, adding that “later on, it will be clawed back in tax hikes.”
The emergency relief program includes subsidies for sole proprietors and medium-sized firms that have taken a significant hit because of COVID-19. Local governments will receive money to compensate businesses closing down under the nationwide state of emergency, which runs through May 6.
Shulz said the most critical element of re-starting the economy is ramping up testing for the disease and enabling companies to do contact tracing.
“Government can shut down the economy,” he said, “but only companies can re-start it.”
Shake Shack returning $10 million virus-linked small business loan
The burger chain Shake Shack says it has obtained new funding and will return a small-business loan it got to help weather the coronavirus crisis.
Shake Shack has laid off or furloughed hundreds of its employees and needed the assistance, its CEO, Randy Garutti, and its founder, Danny Meyer, said in a statement seen Monday.
But the company said it was able to get extra funding late last week through an “equity transaction” and decided to “immediately return” the $10 million paycheck protection loan it obtained through the CARES Act. Click here to read more.
India records sharp spike in cases as lockdown begins to ease
India recorded its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with 1,553 new patients, government data show. India’s Health Ministry said the spike brought the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 17,265.
The number of deaths rose by 36 to 543. The government also said more people were overcoming the disease, however, with the overall rate of recoveries rising from 10% last week to 14%. More than 2,500 patients have recovered from the illness so far.
Experts believe the outbreak will peak in India between May and June.
India, under a strict nationwide lockdown since March 25, eased several restrictions Monday in areas least affected by the virus. Agriculture, along with some industries and businesses, are now allowed to resume in these select areas until May 3, when the lockdown is scheduled to end.
There’s no relaxation on the restrictions yet in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai.
Across India’s 14 states, 54 districts have reported no new COVID-19 cases in two weeks, officials said Sunday. Even when the nationwide lockdown ends, the government says restrictions will be lifted gradually.
Congress, White House near deal on $350 billion in additional small business aid
The Trump administration and Congress expect an agreement Monday on an aid package of up to $450 billion to boost a small-business loan program that has run out of money and to add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.
As talks continued, President Trump said there’s a “good chance” of reaching a bipartisan agreement with Democrats. “We are very close to a deal,” Mr. Trump said Sunday at the White House.
Along with the small business boost, he said the negotiators were looking at “helping our hospitals,” particularly hard-hit rural health care providers.
The Senate is scheduled for a pro forma session Monday, but no vote has been set. The House announced it could meet as soon as Wednesday for a vote on the pending package, according to a schedule update from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Click here to read more.
Ventura County in California easing restrictions in modified stay-at-home order
Ventura County is extending its stay-at-home order until May 15, but the county is starting to ease its restrictions in hopes of reopening soon, CBS Los Angeles reports.
The new order, which went into effect Sunday, allows some business that were formerly considered “nonessential” to operate with 10 employees. This includes bike shops, car dealerships and golf courses.
All businesses, according to the order, must maintain social distancing inside. In addition, social gatherings are now being allowed with up to five people. Click here to read more.
CBS News presses Trump over coronavirus response in February
At Sunday’s Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House, CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang pressed President Trump on his remarks earlier this week that China should have warned the U.S. sooner.
“Many Americans are saying the exact same thing about you: That you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through the month of February instead of holding rallies with thousands of people,” Jiang said. “Why did you wait so long to warn them and why did you not have social distancing until March 16?”
Mr. Trump did not directly answer her question, instead insisting “that if you look at what I did in terms of cutting off China,” he was “very early” in response.
Jiang pushed him on how coronavirus was already in the states when the president issued the ban and on March 23, he said he knew it was going to be a pandemic. When she asked “so do you acknowledge you didn’t think it would spread,” Mr. Trump said “keep your voice down.” He continued by saying “I believe there were zero deaths at the time I closed up the country, nobody was there, and you should say thank you very much for good judgment.”