Japan is set to conditionally exempt business travelers and returnees from the 14-day quarantine policy currently imposed on all overseas arrivals to stem the spread of the coronavirus, government sources said Wednesday.
Both Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with residence permits will be eligible for the exemption, with no restrictions on countries, the sources said.
With the 14-day quarantine policy a significant stumbling block for overseas business travel, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has placed importance on restarting economic activity, has pushed for the exemptions to move forward.
The government aims to draw up measures easing entry restrictions by the end of the month, the sources added.
Those eligible will be required to submit a detailed plan of their movements in the 14 days following entry into Japan, including accommodation and place of employment, they said.
Currently, people returning to Japan from overseas business trips are required to take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the coronavirus at airports. Those who test negative are allowed to enter the country, but they need to self-isolate at their homes or accommodation facilities for two weeks.
After the relaxation, people who are confirmed negative in PCR tests will not need to self-quarantine on condition that they submit activity plans and do not use public transportation for two weeks.
Given the anticipated burden on airport staff in handling paperwork and other inspection measures, the government plans to impose a daily limit on the number of people eligible for the exemption based on testing capacity at airports and other ports of entry.
Japan has already agreed to resume business travel with both Singapore and South Korea, under which travelers are exempted from the 14-day quarantine.
Tokyo also plans to ease a travel advisory for some of the 159 countries and regions placed at Level 3 amid the coronavirus pandemic, a warning that advises against all travel, the sources said.
The Foreign Ministry is considering lowering the advisory for some countries to Level 2, meaning that nonessential travel should be avoided.
No country is subject to the highest Level 4 advisory, which warns against travel and urges all Japanese nationals inside the country to evacuate.
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