Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Japan to expand entry ban to 11 more countries, including India, from May 27. State of emergency lifted May 25. Local restrictions likely.
This alert affects Japan
This alert began 26 May 2020 05:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport disruptions, movement restrictions; likely business disruptions
The government will ban foreign nationals who have traveled to eleven countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and South Africa, to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from May 27. The entry ban expansion comes two days after Prime Minister Abe lifted a state of emergency order for the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, including Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures, and Hokkaido Prefecture, the last locations under the order. However, the government continues to recommend that residents nationwide limit unnecessary contact and practice physical distancing.
Local authorities could implement restrictions at the prefectural level. Several local leaders have asked restaurants and bars to limit operating hours. Officials nationwide will continue to require companies to implement social distancing measures. Despite central government calls to increase telecommuting, people continue to go to offices in some areas. Although local governments cannot enforce movement restrictions with criminal penalties, people have generally complied with government demands. Regulations have not affected public transport, utilities, supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, banks, or post offices.
Officials in Tokyo will reportedly reopen in three phases. Authorities in the capital will allow gatherings of up to 50 people; open schools, museums, and some fitness facilities; and request that restaurants close at 2200 in phase one. In phase two, the government will permit gatherings of up to 100 people and reopen more businesses, such as cinemas and nonessential retail. Groups of up to 1,000 people and operations at gaming and internet cafes will resume in phase three. The city's government has yet to announce a timeline for when other entertainment businesses - such as music venues and karaoke bars - will reopen. Officials plan to allow at least two weeks between phases. Similar steps are likely in Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures, as officials have been treating the region as a single entity due to the high commuter traffic volume. However, such guidelines remain unenforceable legally, and many private businesses may reopen ahead of the government's timeline.
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 remain possible. Flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to decreased demand. Operators of the country's major rail networks have drastically cut service due to reduced demand. Authorities have also suspended international passenger ferry services.
Numerous national governments are maintaining alert levels for Japan and are advising their citizens against nonessential travel to the country. Some governments have banned foreign nationals with recent travel history in Japan from entering their countries.
With the latest announcement, Japan's entry ban now encompasses some 111 countries, including China, South Korea, the US, Australia, and all of Europe. Authorities require travelers entering the country, including Japanese nationals, to 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. Officials also require all passengers arriving from specified areas to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which involves medical personnel taking a nasopharyngeal swab, upon arrival. Authorities could expand such policies to cover additional areas at short notice, depending on COVID-19 activity.
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.