Japan will lift its entry ban on foreign travelers from China, South Korea, six other countries and Taiwan from Nov. 1, government officials said Friday, as it gradually eases COVID-19 travel restrictions in a bid to revive its battered economy.
Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam will also be taken off the entry ban list, as all of them have largely brought the pandemic under control, the officials said.
Japan, however, continues to suspend visa waiver agreements with other countries and limit the issuance of new visas, meaning in most cases tourists will still not be able to visit.
File photo taken on Sept. 11, 2020, shows passenger planes parked at Narita airport near Tokyo. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
The decision, made at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus response task force presided over by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, was announced after the Foreign Ministry earlier in the day lowered its travel advisories for the countries and regions from Level 3 to Level 2.
Suga said Japan will ease its requirement for Japanese nationals and foreign residents returning from overseas to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, also from Nov. 1, a move aimed at facilitating business trips.
To be eligible for the exemption, returning travelers will need to limit their overseas trips to within seven days, and for the first 14 days upon their return refrain from using public transportation and save their smartphone GPS data to aid in contact tracing, as well as submit an itinerary detailing their plans during that time.
It is the first time Japan has lifted its entry ban on any country or region since it began putting parts of China including Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected, on the list in early February.
Meanwhile, Myanmar and Jordan will be added to the list, bringing the total number of countries and regions covered by the entry ban to 152. Foreigners without residential status who have recently been to any of these places will in principle be turned away, with some exceptions for humanitarian reasons.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced the lowering of the travel advisories in a press conference on Friday, requesting citizens avoid nonessential trips to these areas, whereas the ministry had previously warned against all travel there.
Separately, Motegi said Japan has lifted another set of travel advisories it had issued for all countries and regions in March in response to the pandemic.
Such advisories were issued uniformly to alert travelers of possible risks of becoming stranded on foreign soil due to tightened border controls and the imposition of lockdowns.
“We will lift the travel alerts for all regions as regular international flights have started to resume,” Motegi said.
“But the alerts remain in place for Syria, Iraq and other regions where security situations require caution.”
Japan has been gradually rolling back its border restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as part of efforts to revive its economy.
Motegi said Japan and Vietnam have also agreed to restart reciprocal business travel from Sunday.
With the measure, travelers will no longer need to observe a 14-day quarantine upon arrival if they test negative for the coronavirus and turn in itineraries among other preventive measures.
Vietnam became the third country with which Japan has resumed travel for people on short-term business trips following Singapore and South Korea.