Japan is making arrangements to bring forward the lifting of its current COVID-19 border control measures to Saturday in anticipation of an increase in overseas travelers during the Golden Week holidays, government sources said Wednesday.

The government had originally planned to end the border measures on May 8, the same day the legal status of the coronavirus will be downgraded to common infectious diseases such as seasonal influenza. But it coincides with the end of the holiday period starting this weekend.

Currently, all entrants are required to present certification of at least three COVID-19 vaccination doses or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure.

While the requirement is now expected to be dropped from midnight Friday, the government is planning to introduce a voluntary testing system targeting entrants with symptoms such as fever at five airports, with the aim of detecting new infectious diseases.

After the reclassification, COVID-19 patients who need to be hospitalized are also expected to be accepted at around 8,400 medical facilities, including 90 percent of hospitals, to ensure the health care system can support a larger number of patients than during the omicron outbreak, the sources said.