Japan to allow 20,000 daily international arrivals from June – Nationwide
Japan will double the cap on overseas arrivals to 20,000 people per day starting next month as it continues to ease border controls triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the top government spokesman said. The government will also ease COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules for people arriving in Japan, dividing countries and regions into three groups according to the infection situation. Travelers from the lowest-risk “blue” group will be exempt from testing upon arrival in Japan and quarantining at home, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference. They will still need to show a pre-departure negative test result. Around 80 percent of entrants are likely to be from countries and regions that fall into that group, Matsuno said, adding that the breakdowns will be announced soon.
People arriving from countries and regions placed in the highest-risk “red” group will be asked to take COVID-19 tests when they enter Japan and stay for three days at quarantine facilities. Those in the remaining “yellow” group need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and stay for three days at home or quarantine facilities, according to the government. But this does not apply to people who have received their third vaccine dose. Matsuno did not specify when Japan will start accepting foreign tourists again, saying only that preparations are under way to do so. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said his government will further relax border controls to bring them in line with other Group of Seven nations in June.
The review comes as Japan has seen the infection situation stabilize in recent weeks. The number of COVID-19 cases in Japan has been lower than in other G7 members such as Britain, Germany, France and the United States, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Japan effectively closed its doors to non-resident foreign nationals to prevent a surge in infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus late last year. The measure drew criticism at home and abroad that it was too strict. In recent months, the government has gradually increased the number of people allowed to enter Japan in stages, with the current daily cap at 10,000.
7 from U.S. arrive in Japan for 1st test tour before tourism reopening – Chiba Prefecture
Seven people from the United States arrived in Japan as part of the first small-scale test tours in the government’s planned gradual reopening to inbound tourists from June. The seven — six from Hawaii and another from Los Angeles — landed at Narita airport outside Tokyo and will participate in tours employing coronavirus countermeasures. Japan’s inbound tourist numbers have hit record lows since the government temporarily imposed pandemic border restrictions in December 2020. The Japan Business Federation, a business lobby known as Keidanren, has recently called for “realistic discussions” on reopening.
The seven will be split into two itineraries. One includes Tochigi Prefecture’s Nikko Toshogu shrine and Zenkoji temple in Nagano Prefecture, while the other features Iwate Prefecture’s Hanamakionsen hot spring resort and the Mogami River in Yamagata Prefecture. People from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore are eligible for the test tours, which involve about 50 individuals, including travel agency officials, split across 15 groups sightseeing in 12 prefectures. As part of infection prevention measures, groups will comprise no more than four people, with participants asked to wear masks when visiting tourist spots or using transportation. A correspondence system will also be set up for cases where someone tests positive mid-tour.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan totalled 31.88 million in 2019, hitting the highest level on record. Conversely, pandemic border controls made 2021 the lowest since comparable data were made available in 1964, with just 245,900 foreign nationals entering the country. Despite plans for some restrictions to be eased, including doubling the maximum daily limit on eligible overseas arrivals to 20,000 from June, no date for lifting tourist entry restrictions has been indicated. Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at the Nomura Research Institute, estimates that if the government does apply the 20,000-person cap, then the economic effect from foreign students, people staying long term and tourists would add 8.13 trillion yen to the economy a year.
Amid a worldwide trend to accept vaccinated tourists without quarantine measures, Japan takes differing measures depending on where people have come from. From June, travellers to Japan from countries and regions with a low risk of transmission will no longer be required to have quarantine checks or self-isolate at home, regardless of whether they have had three COVID-19 vaccines.