Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Japan lifts state of emergency in Tokyo metropolitan area and Hokkaido as of May 25. Local business restrictions likely. Entry ban ongoing.

This alert affects Japan

This alert began 25 May 2020 11:12 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport disruptions, movement restrictions; likely business disruptions

The Japanese government lifted a state of emergency order for the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, including Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures, and Hokkaido Prefecture as of May 25 due to reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities lifted the declaration for Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto prefectures May 21. The government continues to recommend that residents nationwide continue to limit unnecessary contact and practice physical distancing.

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, local authorities may not have the capacity to enforce such guidelines, and many private businesses may reopen ahead of the government's timeline.

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.

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 decreased use. 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 is maintaining a ban on foreign nationals from more than 100 countries, including China, South Korea, Australia, the US, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, and Egypt. 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.

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