Gov’t calls for longer New Year holiday to curb virus spread – Nationwide
The Japanese government will ask companies to extend the upcoming New Year holiday by about one week in a bid to mitigate crowding by people visiting relatives or going on vacation and lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus, a cabinet member said Friday. Under the plan, announced by Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, companies that would usually go back to work on Jan. 4 will be asked to wait until Jan 12, a day after Coming-of-Age Day.
The New Year holiday is one of the busiest seasons for travel in Japan as trains, planes and highways become packed with people returning to their hometowns to see family and friends or taking the opportunity to go on vacation. People also form long lines for hatsumode, the first Shinto shrine visit of the year.
Nishimura said the request would be sent out through organizations such as the Japan Business Federation, also known as Keidanren, and that local municipalities will also be asked to cooperate with the extension plan, which was discussed at a government subcommittee meeting on Friday. The subcommittee also looked at possible countermeasures for Halloween, with some members saying eating and drinking on the street should be avoided. Tokyo’s Shibuya district, which usually draws swarms of costumed partygoers at night, has asked people not to come out this year due to concerns about COVID-19.
There have been over 95,000 confirmed cases in Japan, including about 700 from a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February, with a little over 1,700 deaths attributed to the coronavirus. While the country has passed the peak of new coronavirus cases, experts advising the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare warned Thursday that the number of infections is starting to trend slightly upward again.
The subcommittee also discussed ways to allow spectators to attend sports events while avoiding the three Cs — closed spaces, crowded and close-contact settings — with a scheduled trial at Yokohama Stadium from Oct 30 to Nov 1 for professional baseball games to be followed by a second one at Tokyo Dome from Nov 7 to Nov 8.
Japanese municipalities to live-stream tourist spots on Facebook – Nationwide
The Japanese government’s tourism promotion arm will introduce regional sightseeing spots to would-be travelers by live-streaming them on Facebook, starting this month, in preparation for the day when the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.
The Singapore offices of the Japan National Tourism Organization and two prefectures, Shizuoka and Okinawa, jointly announced the launch of the “Fun from Home” project calling for live-streaming on Facebook. The publicity blitz is targeted at more than three million followers of official Facebook pages operated by the Asia-Pacific offices of the organization, known as JNTO, in six countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
The first in a series of live video introductions will begin Saturday through the Facebook channel of the Shizuoka prefectural government’s Southeast Asian office based in Singapore. The footage, including scenes of a non-Japanese visitor enjoying green tea at a tea plantation in Shizuoka’s Nihondaira area against the backdrop of Mt Fuji, will be shared by the six JNTO offices’ Facebook pages.
The second version, set for Nov 8, will feature the southern island prefecture of Okinawa, including a live folksong performance and a quiz event, with the live-streaming project continuing until next March at a pace of one program per month in principle.
Japan eyes exempting short-term business travelers from quarantine – Nationwide
Japan is planning to exempt businesspeople entering Japan for a 72-hour or shorter stay from the country’s quarantine requirements provided they follow certain COVID-19 precautions, government sources said Thursday.
Japan aims to start accepting such business travelers from countries and regions with which it has deep economic ties, such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, possibly from November. The step is aimed at lifting the economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic by helping international business activities to resume.
The government will select countries eligible for the exemption based on their respective coronavirus situations, and plans to gradually expand the scope. Japan has already agreed to similar arrangements for business travel to and from Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam under conditions including virus-testing and limiting places that can be visited. Such requirements would also be in place under the expanded system, the sources said.