Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: More Japanese prefectures declare state of emergency due to COVID-19. Business, travel, quarantine restrictions in effect as of April 14.

This alert affects Japan

This alert began 14 Apr 2020 07:11 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport disruptions, movement restrictions; likely business disruptions

Summary
Prefectural governments in Aichi, Hokkaido, and Ishikawa have declared states of emergency to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of April 14. Although not legally binding, governors in the prefectures have used the declaration to close schools through May 6 and call on residents to remain indoors, except for essential reasons. Officials are not allowed to call for business closures. The local declarations follow a central government state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, and Chiba, Fukuoka, Hyogo, Kanagawa, and Saitama prefectures through May 6. Under both national and prefectural declarations, officials could potentially demand suppliers sell food, medicine, and other goods to the government and requisition land. The restrictions do not impact public transport, utilities, supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, banks, or post offices.

In Tokyo, where restrictions are most widespread, authorities have requested that entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, gyms, public pools, and nightclubs, close. Officials have also asked restaurants and bars to limit operating hours. Kanagawa Prefecture has adopted the same measures in a bid to reduce travel between the prefecture and Tokyo. Saitama and Chiba prefectures are mostly following similar restrictions from April 13. Osaka and Fukuoka intend to request business closures from April 14, though restrictions may not be as pervasive. Local governments cannot enforce movement restrictions, and reports indicate mixed levels of the adoption of government requests. People in many cities continue to go to offices, despite central government calls to increase telecommuting. Data also suggests that ridership on public transport has not met targeted goals in Tokyo. However, business compliance with government demands is likely to be high.

Flights from South Korea and China are only authorized to land at Narita International Airport (NRT) and Kansai International Airport (KIX). Additional restrictions on international flights are possible in the coming days. Even in the absence of further official control measures, flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to severely decreased demand. Authorities have suspended international passenger ferry services.

Numerous national governments have raised their alert levels for Japan and are advising their citizens against nonessential travel to the country due to COVID-19 activity. Some governments have banned foreign nationals with recent travel history in Japan from entering their countries. Additional travel restrictions to and from Japan are possible in the coming days and weeks.

Travel Restrictions

The government continues to require that travelers entering the country, including Japanese nationals, undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival; the isolation period may take place either at a designated facility or the individual's home. Individuals under quarantine orders are also to refrain from using public transportation. Quarantine measures upon arrival will remain in place through at least the end of April, but extensions are likely.

As of April 14, the government continues to ban foreign nationals who have traveled to 75 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Schengen Area countries, China, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, within 14 days from entering the country. Officials also require all passengers arriving from these countries to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which involves medical personnel taking a nasopharyngeal swab, upon arrival. International travel bans and mandatory medical testing upon arrival will continue until further notice. Authorities could expand such policies to cover additional areas at short notice, depending on COVID-19 activity.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Postpone travel if affected by an entry ban. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Confirm international flight reservations. Closely monitor national travel advisories, as additional restrictions to and from Japan are likely. Consider telecommuting options for staff. Make allowances for likely increased employee absenteeism and related business disruptions.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int

Japan National Tourism Organization: www.japan.travel