Following the declaration of a state of emergency for the Tokyo area, Japan has tightened its border control measures with stricter entry requirements for Japanese returnees and a fresh batch of entry procedures for business travelers from eligible countries.
The change to the travel policy, which was announced by the health ministry Friday night, is part of the government’s new measures in response to a surge in coronavirus cases across the country and around the world. The announcement comes a day after the government declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures: Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama.
Under the revised rules, nonresidents, with the exception of business travelers from 11 Asian nations under a reciprocal program, are not allowed to enter.
An entry ban remains in place for 152 nations and regions. Under the revised travel policy starting Wednesday, all eligible travelers seeking entry or re-entry to Japan will be required to undergo tests for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure for Japan and submit a negative test result when they arrive. The change will apply to all travelers, including returning citizens, who until now were only tested upon arrival in Japan.
Those who do not comply by undergoing tests for COVID-19 before their departure will instead be asked to self-isolate for three days at a designated facility and will be tested for the coronavirus on the third day after entering the country. Those who test negative will be allowed to return home and will be asked to remain in self-isolation for 11 days.
The decision came amid concerns about a potential surge in infections imported from overseas and follows reports of infections with a new and more contagious strain of SARS-CoV-2 detected in Japanese returnees from Britain, where the new strain was first discovered.
All people entering Japan already faced mandatory tests for COVID-19 upon arrival.
Eligible business travelers from Japan, regardless of their nationality, will also be required to submit written assurances, signed by their employers or sponsoring organizations, that they will observe quarantine measures and be tested for COVID-19 before their trip back home.
The revised procedures will remain in place until the state of emergency is lifted. It is currently due to end on Feb. 7.
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