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With the share of people vaccinated rising worldwide and numbers of coronavirus infections fluctuating, Japan has begun to loosen its quarantine measures for travelers from several American states, including New York, as well as countries in Europe and the Middle East.

The changes, which will take effect Thursday, also include more stringent requirements than those currently in place due to the rise in infections with the delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in India.

From Thursday, people coming to Japan from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lebanon and six American states ー Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee ー will no longer need to stay in government-designated facilities after entering the country.

Currently, people coming from these regions are required to spend three days in facilities picked by quarantine officers and undergo tests at the end of their stay. The change means that arrivals from those regions can spend the 14-day quarantine period at home or other facilities of their choosing. They will still need to report their health condition and whereabouts.

Meanwhile, nine regions including South Africa and Arkansas in the U.S. have been added to the list of high-risk regions due to the spread of the delta variant, which is more contagious than the original strain of the virus.

From Thursday, travelers from those regions will be required to spend three days in government-designated facilities and be tested twice after entering Japan, with the three-day stay being part of the 14-day quarantine, which officially starts from the day after arrival. The other countries or regions that will be included to the list are: the state of Parana in Brazil, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Portugal, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

The requirement to stay in government-chosen facilities currently applies to 29 countries and regions. However, the length of stay and the number of tests for COVID-19 varies depending on where they have visited prior to their arrival.

The most rigorous measures have been imposed on travelers from India and its neighboring countries. These include a total entry ban on foreign nationals and a 10-day stay in designated facilities for Japanese nationals.

The cost of accommodation and meals during the mandatory stay in designated facilities is covered by the government.

The requirement to undergo tests for the coronavirus upon arrival and to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the country covers all entries, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated.

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