Starting in November, Japan will conditionally exempt business travelers and returnees from the 14-day quarantine policy, which was imposed on all arrivals from overseas to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, government officials announced Friday.
The change, which will come into effect Sunday, will cover both Japanese nationals returning from overseas business trips and foreign residents with valid residence permits in Japan, with no restrictions on their overseas travel destinations, the officials said following a government coronavirus task force meeting Friday.
However, the change will only apply to residents of Japan who are planning to spend no more than seven days at their overseas destinations.
Currently, people returning to Japan from business trips are required to take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the coronavirus at airports. The returnees who test negative are allowed to enter the country, but they currently need to self-isolate at their homes or accommodation facilities for two weeks.
After the relaxation, people who test negative on their PCR test will not need to self-quarantine on the condition that they will submit documentation of their planned activities and do not use public transportation for two weeks. Those who tested positive will be required to self-isolate for 14 days or be admitted to the hospital if they are suffering from severe symptoms.
Travelers under this regulation will also be required to provide written assurance from their employers or other sponsors that they will take responsibility for the returnees’ actions during their business trips and upon arrival.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday said during the government’s task force meeting that the revision is aimed at expanding business activities but further restrictions of movement will be required to prevent viral transmission.
Under the revised policy, Japan will also relax entry restrictions for travelers from Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, where the pandemic is considered to be kept relatively under control.
Starting Sunday, such travelers will be exempted from testing upon arrival as long as they observe a 14-day quarantine and don’t use public transport during that period. Travelers from those countries will also be exempted from pre-entry COVID-19 tests under certain conditions, depending on the length of their stay outside Japan, while short-term travelers will be allowed to undergo PCR tests upon arrival if they request to have the quarantine rule lifted.
Following the revision, Japan will also lift the rule requiring the submission of a negative test result for travelers who will spend less than 14 days at their destination from any of the 11 regions.
The decision comes following the Foreign Ministry’s announcement earlier in the day in which travel advisories issued for the 11 territories were lowered to Level 2 on its scale of four, as the regions’ pace of new coronavirus infections is slowing down. This means that nonessential travel to those places should be avoided.
Meanwhile, Japan will also impose stricter restrictions for Jordan and Myanmar following the government’s decision to raise its travel alert to Level 3 in light of an expansion in coronavirus cases, warning against all travel.
The pre-arrival PCR test requirement will remain in place for Jordan, Myanmar and other countries covered by the entry restrictions. Following the change, the travel restrictions will cover 152 countries and regions.
Depending on their travel history, even residents of Japan may be denied entry if they don’t submit the required documents when seeking entry permission.
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