The government has announced that from Friday it will shorten the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days for most people fully inoculated against COVID-19 and in some cases allow them to immediately self-isolate at home, even when returning from locations with a high presence of coronavirus variants.

“As the vaccination rate increases, the government will revise entry restrictions in phases. This will be the first revision we will make,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a news conference Monday.

The planned change will apply to those who present proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are able to observe the shorter quarantine period at home or an accommodation of their choosing. The relaxed rules will only apply to people who have received one of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Japanese government: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

With the revision, Japan will begin to accept vaccine passports issued by about 50 countries and regions, along with those issued by Japanese municipalities.

Those countries and territories include the following:

  • 31 countries in Europe, including the U.K., France and Germany
  • Seven Asian countries and territories including Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand
  • Six Canadian provinces including Quebec and Ontario

In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 vaccination card will be accepted, as will similar documents issued by states including New York, Washington and Maryland, as well as the cities of New York and Washington.

With the change, returnees will for the first time be able to use the vaccine passports that municipal governments have been issuing since late July.

Currently, all people entering Japan — regardless of whether or not they have received their COVID-19 shots — 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.

But under the new quarantine protocol, inoculated people will be able to undergo a COVID-19 test — PCR or antigen — on the 10th day of quarantine at their own expense. Only those who test negative and submit the result to the Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants operating under the health ministry will be permitted to end the self-isolation period.

Tests before departure to Japan are still required even under the new protocol.

Travelers arriving from countries and regions where the virus is most rampant will not be able to observe a shorter quarantine period even if they are fully vaccinated.

Based on the COVID-19 risk level, Japan classifies travelers who cannot isolate at home into three categories: those that need to quarantine at designated facilities for three, six or 10 days after arrival. Those who test negative at the end of the period at a designated facility can return home or relocate to a facility of their choosing for the remainder of the two-week quarantine.

From Thursday, no arrivals will need to stay at designated facilities for 10 days.

Six-day quarantine at designated facilities

Arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Philippines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela — regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not — will be required to spend six days in government-designated facilities, be tested on arrival and on the third and sixth days of their quarantine period. They are allowed to move to a facility of their choosing for the remainder of the 14-day period but cannot request to have their quarantine shortened, even if they have been fully inoculated.

Three-day quarantine at designated facilities

Arrivals from more than 30 countries with a high number of cases involving coronavirus variants will be required to spend three days in government-designated facilities. Travelers from these countries will be exempted from the quarantine at those facilities and can self-isolate at home or an accommodation of their choice for 10 or 14 days if they present proof of vaccination.

Those countries are: Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mozambique, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia (Khabarovsk, Moscow), Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey, U.A.E., U.K., Uzbekistan, Uruguay and Zambia.

No quarantine at designated facilities

Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal and Spain, which have been on the list of regions requiring a three-day self-isolation period at a government facility, will be removed from that list. Arrivals from regions that are not on the list can self-isolate at home or at an accommodation of their choice for 14 days, or 10 days if they have proof of vaccination and test negative on the 10th day of arrival.

However, some restrictions will remain unchanged. The use of public transport during the quarantine period will continue to be prohibited — the only permitted ways to travel from a point of entry to a quarantine location are private taxi services, dedicated train cars connecting Narita Airport with central Tokyo or car rental services.

[Scroll right to see full chart]

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.