Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Japan lifts state of emergency in most prefectures May 14. Restrictions remain in effect for Tokyo and Osaka through at least May 31.

This alert affects Japan

This alert began 14 May 2020 09:47 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Japan lifted a state of emergency for 39 prefectures in the country, May 14, due to reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. However, the government is recommending that residents in these areas continue to limit unnecessary contact and practice physical distancing. The state of emergency will remain in place for Hokkaido, Hyogo, and Kyoto prefectures; the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, including Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures; and Osaka through at least May 31. Governors in these areas can request that residents limit movement to only essential activity and close educational institutions, childcare facilities, and entertainment venues. Officials could potentially demand that suppliers sell food, medicine, and other goods to the government, and requisition land, if necessary. The central government intends to review the measures again May 21 and could further lift the measure in areas if conditions warrant.

Authorities are likely to continue requesting that nonessential businesses, such as movie theaters, gyms, public pools, and nightclubs, remain closed, though measures can vary by prefecture. Leaders in some prefectures have also asked restaurants and bars to limit operating hours. Officials 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. The state of emergency does not impact public transport, utilities, supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, banks, or post offices.

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. Even in the absence of further official controls, flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to the severely decreased demand. Operators of the country's major rail networks have drastically cut service due to lower ridership. 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.

Travel Restrictions

The government continues to ban foreign nationals who have traveled to 89 countries, including China, Korea, Australia, the US, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, and Egypt, within 14 days from entering Japan. Authorities require travelers entering the country, including Japanese nationals, to quarantine for 14 days; isolation may take place either 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 coronavirus disease (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.

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