Residents of Japan who have received a COVID-19 vaccine will be exempted from entry or quarantine procedures in five European countries if they have a vaccine passport, the government said Wednesday.
Japan has made arrangements with Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey and Poland for holders of vaccine passports — official documents used as proof of vaccination overseas that will be available for application starting Monday.
Estonia has also been added to the list of countries, as it does not currently require travelers to self-isolate upon entry.
Meanwhile, vaccinated travelers to South Korea will be exempt from a 14-day quarantine if they have proof of vaccination and are visiting for specific business, academic or humanitarian reasons.
The government reportedly plans to expand the number of countries to around 30. The government is still negotiating with other nations and will add the countries to the list once they come to an agreement.
At present, travelers from Japan are required to either submit results of polymerase chain reaction tests for COVID-19 or to quarantine upon entry at the destination country.
“But with the certification they could be exempted from such measures,” a government official told a media briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Local governments across Japan will handle applications for the documents. However, the certificates may not be available on the spot, government officials said.
The decision comes in response to calls from business lobby groups in Japan that have been affected by strict travel restrictions in Japan and abroad.
The vaccine passports will confirm that a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and they are also expected to include the holder’s name, passport number, type of vaccine and date of vaccination.
But the introduction of vaccine passports does not mean that Japan will soon recognize similar documents issued abroad or exempt vaccine passport holders from quarantine when they return to Japan.
“Some countries have been asking Japan to exempt their residents from quarantine measures” as a reciprocal step, including Singapore and Israel, said a Foreign Ministry official, who also attended Wednesday’s briefing.
For the time being, however, the Japanese government plans to continue requiring travelers, including returnees, to quarantine for two weeks even if they have been vaccinated.
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