Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Japan eases large gathering limits as of Sept. 20. Business travel with Singapore possible; other border measures ongoing.

Alert Begins 20 Sep 2020 06:15 AM UTC
Alert Expires 20 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and some business disruptions

Authorities have eased gathering restrictions at sporting and other event venues amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Sporting events can now take place with up to 50-percent capacity. Cinemas, theaters, and concert venues are mainly permitting up to 50-percent attendence, though authorities allow some smaller venues and theaters to operate at full capacity. Nonessential businesses across the country have reopened but must adhere to social distancing directives. Requirements for companies to implement social distancing measures remain in place. Tokyo has lowered its alert for COVID-19 to Level 3, the second-highest level, and lifted restrictions on entertainment establishments and eateries. Prefectural governments could issue emergency declarations and call for related business restrictions in areas where COVID-19 activity increases. However, officials have little power to enforce directives, though compliance has generally been high.

Sporadic rail and flight disruptions remain possible nationwide, though demand is normalizing. Physical distancing requirements are in place on most long-distance transport services. 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. International commercial flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to decreased demand amid travel restrictions. Authorities continue to suspend international passenger ferry services.

Travel Restrictions
Authorities continue to ban most foreign nationals with a travel history to 159 countries and territories, including China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, the US, Australia, and all EU member countries. Officials permit permanent residents, foreigners with a student, work or long-term resident visa, and spouses and children of Japanese nationals and permanent residents to enter, regardless of their departure date from the country. Eligible foreign nationals must get a Re-entry Confirmation Letter from the nearest Japanese diplomatic mission and provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of departure to enter the country. Officials are only accepting polymerase chain reaction (PCR), loop-mediated isothermal amplification method (LAMP), or chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (CLEIA) antigen tests.

Japan is allowing essential business and official travel from Singapore under a Business Track arrangement. Short-term visitors from Singapore can enter the country with limited quarantine time. Authorized travelers must take a COVID-19 test before departure and after arrival in Japan, provide authorities with a copy of their itinerary, limit time spent in public, and remain in contact with health officials during the first 14 days of their visit.

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 and Business Track visitors must refrain from using public transportation and download the government-support contact tracing mobile phone application.

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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