Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Japan to ease border restrictions on resident foreigners Aug. 5. Entry ban, quarantine measures in place. Restrictions possible in Tokyo.

  • Alert Begins: 31 Jul 2020 08:06 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and some business disruptions

Japan will ease border restrictions for resident foreign nationals from Aug. 5, despite ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities will permit foreigners with student or work visas, permanent residents, long-term resident visa holders, and spouses and children of Japanese nationals and permanent residents to enter if they departed before the government enacted an entry ban for their respective country. Travelers must get a Re-entry Confirmation Letter from the nearest Japanese diplomatic mission and obtain a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure to enter the country. The government will enact the requirement for permanent residents, long-term resident visa holders, and spouses and children of Japanese nationals and permanent residents starting Sept. 1.

Domestic Restrictions
Authorities are allowing public gatherings of up to 5,000 people and permitting patrons to attend professional sporting events. Authorities have permitted nonessential businesses across the country to reopen, provided they follow instructions to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Although central government statements indicate it is unlikely to reintroduce restrictions, local authorities have not ruled out calling for some businesses to close again and introducing restrictions if reported COVID-19 cases rise significantly in the coming days and weeks. Several prefectural leaders have asked restaurants and bars to limit operating hours. Officials in some areas will continue to require companies to implement social distancing measures.

Tokyo officials announced July 30 that they are requesting karaoke venues and restaurants that serve alcohol to close 2200-0500 daily as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the capital. The government will provide subsidies of USD 1,900 for establishments that cooperate with the request. Governor Yoriko Koike has asked residents to postpone nonessential travel outside the city and advised residents to avoid unnecessary gatherings. Koike has also warned her government could also issue a state of emergency if new COVID-19 cases do not decrease.

Transport networks will likely continue normalizing; however, domestic rail and flight disruptions remain possible amid generally reduced demand. Physical distancing requirements are in place on most long-distance transport services.

Travel Restrictions
Japan continues to ban entry for most foreign nationals with a travel history to 146 countries and territories, including China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, the US, Australia, and the European Union. Officials could further expand the list of countries facing travel restrictions depending on COVID-19 activity globally. Officials require all passengers to undergo a PCR COVID-19 test upon arrival. Inbound travelers, including Japanese citizens, must quarantine for 14 days; isolation may take place at a designated facility or at home. Individuals under quarantine orders must refrain from using public transportation and download the government-support contact tracing mobile phone application.

Flights from South Korea and China are only authorized to land at Narita International Airport (NRT) and Kansai International Airport (KIX). Transit flights for foreign nationals are only allowed through NRT. Flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to decreased demand amid travel restrictions. Authorities have also suspended international passenger ferry services.

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.

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