Japan is making final preparations to shorten the period of quarantine for people fully inoculated against COVID-19 from 14 to 10 days and allow them to immediately self-isolate at home, even when returning from higher-risk locations, the health ministry said Friday.
The change will most likely take effect from October, according to reports citing government sources.
Following the planned change, those who present proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to observe the shorter quarantine period at home. It is not yet clear what will constitute acceptable evidence, although Japan and other nations have begun issuing vaccine passports for overseas travel.
However, the relaxed rules will only apply to people who have received one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized by the Japanese government: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
But even under the eased quarantine protocol, inoculated people will reportedly be required to undergo tests for COVID-19 on the 10th day of quarantine. Only those who test negative will be exempted from the full 14-day self-isolation period.
Currently, all people entering Japan, regardless of whether they have received their COVID-19 shots or not, are subject to the same quarantine policy, which includes pre-entry tests for COVID-19, additional tests on arrival and the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Under the current protocol, people coming from more than 40 countries and territories listed as high-risk regions due to the spread of the delta variant are required to stay in government-designated facilities for the first three days after arrival. Those who test negative at the end of that period can return home or relocate to a facility of their choosing for the remainder of the two-week quarantine period.
Others coming from regions that are not on the list can go straight home or to an accommodation of their choosing.
Since July 26, Japan has been issuing vaccine passports for people who have received two COVID-19 shots in the country and are planning to travel abroad. But the document is not yet recognized when the traveler returns to Japan.
The plan to relax the quarantine measures for inoculated travelers was unveiled at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s coronavirus committee earlier this week.
However, some restrictions will most likely remain unchanged. The use of public transport during the 14-day quarantine period will not be allowed — the only permitted ways to go from the point of entry to the quarantine location are private taxi services, dedicated train cars or car rental services.
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