Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Japan further further expands entry ban to additional countries from July 24. Quarantine measures, some gathering restrictions continue.

  • Alert Begins: 23 Jul 2020 08:53 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and some business disruptions

Japanese officials have extended travel bans to additional countries as of July 24, while maintaining generally relaxed domestic controls to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Japan imposed international travel restrictions on Botswana, Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Libya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Palestinian Territories effective 0001 July 24. Authorities are also maintaining existing travel restrictions on 130 other countries and territories, including China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, the US, Australia, and all of the European Union. Foreign nationals with recent travel history in the designated locations are barred from entering Japan.

In terms of domestic controls, authorities are allowing public gatherings of up to 5,000 people and permitting patrons to attend professional sporting events. The central government has lifted all travel guidelines on inter-prefectural travel, including into the Tokyo metropolitan region, although officials in Tokyo suggest residents postpone nonessential travel outside the city amid an increase in cases in the metropolitan area. Tokyo's governor has also advised people in the city to avoid unnecessary gatherings. 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. Localized restrictions are especially likely in and around Tokyo. Tokyo officials are offering nightlife businesses, where many new COVID-19 cases are linked, JPY 500,000 (USD 4680) to close for 10 days or more. Officials in neighboring Kagoshima have offered JPY 300,000 to similar businesses to remained closed through July 29. Depending on COVID-19 activity, local authorities throughout Japan could implement restrictions at the prefectural level. Several local leaders have asked restaurants and bars to limit operating hours. Officials in some areas will continue to require companies to implement social distancing measures.

Transport networks will likely continue normalizing in the coming weeks. Railway companies in most of the country are operating fewer trains amid generally reduced demand, but operators will plan to increase services in the near term, especially on routes with heavy traffic. Physical distancing requirements are in place on most long-distance transport services.

Travel Restrictions
Officials could further expand the list of countries facing travel restrictions depending on COVID-19 activity globally. The government requires arriving travelers, including Japanese citizens, 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 areas facing travel restrictions to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which involves medical personnel taking a nasopharyngeal swab.

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. Additional restrictions on international flights remain possible. 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.

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