Worries about new strains of COVID-19 prompted Japan to reimpose border restrictions from Jan. 13, including stopping the issuance of new visas to people hoping to move to the country. For a quick refresher, check out Magdalena Osumi’s Q&A on the new measures.

In the latest Deep Dive podcast, Osumi and host Oscar Boyd discuss how these new border restrictions are affecting foreign residents.

Also, Sam Seghers recounts her experience being left in limbo by the new restrictions, and Aska Ross walks listeners through his three-day quarantine in a government-run facility after returning from the U.K.

'Deep Dive' podcast Episode 78: Japan's foreign residents are trapped — Part 3 | THE JAPAN TIMES
‘Deep Dive’ podcast Episode 78: Japan’s foreign residents are trapped — Part 3 | THE JAPAN TIMES

Data released Friday shows that during the usually busy New Year’s holidays, before the new curbs were introduced, few international passengers used Japan’s three major airports, with numbers down 97% from a year earlier.

Over the whole of 2020, foreign visitors to the country plunged 87.1% compared with a year earlier, the biggest drop recorded since comparable data became available in 1964, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday, as the pandemic dented travel demand and even harsher entry restrictions were imposed.

Travel agencies have been decimated. To stay afloat, firms are reducing branches and personnel as well as freezing new hires. H.I.S. will shutter a third of its domestic outlets, while some companies have even scrapped travel packages and started developing new areas of business such as … dining.