Japan suspends visas, threatens quarantines for passengers from China and South Korea, as of March 9. Increased health screenings ongoing.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 09 Mar 2020 09:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Mandatory quarantines, travel restrictions, enhanced health screenings, transport disruptions; likely business disruptions

Summary
Officials have invalidated visas for travelers from China - including Hong Kong and Macau - and South Korea as of March 9 as part of the country's effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Tokyo has also suspended visa-free travel for South Korea, Hong Kong, and Macau. The measure will not impact Chinese and South Korean visitors already in Japan, but those people cannot reenter Japan on the same visa if they depart the country until the restrictions end.

Authorities are also enforcing mandatory 14-day quarantines for passengers arriving from mainland China and South Korea at designated government sites. Officials will require passengers to pay for the quarantine accommodation. The measures, which will remain in place through at least March 31, apply to both Japanese and foreign nationals.

Japan continues to ban entry by foreign nationals who have traveled to Qom (Iran), North Gyeongsang Province (South Korea), and China's Zhejiang and Hubei provinces. Authorities could expand travel bans and quarantine measures to cover additional areas, including entire countries, at short notice in the coming days and weeks due to COVID-19 activity.

Flights from South Korea and China will only be authorized to land at Narita International Airport (NRT) and Kansai International Airport (KIX) beginning March 9. International passenger ferry services are also suspended. International flight disruptions will probably continue in the coming weeks, and possibly months, due to decreased demand. Additional service cancellations are likely.

Officials continue to carry out enhanced health screenings at points of entry across the country. Travelers will still need to complete a health declaration and report any symptoms or potential exposure upon arrival. The designation allows the government to implement more restrictions, such as enforced hospitalization or banning infected passengers.

Several countries are advising their citizens against nonessential travel to Japan. Numerous national governments have raised their alert levels for Japan due to sustained community spread of COVID-19 in the country. As of March 6, officials in Israel, Iraq, Micronesia, and Mongolia have banned foreign nationals with recent travel history in Japan from entering their countries; additional travel restrictions to and from Japan are likely in the coming days and weeks.

Japan closed all schools nationwide March 2 until the beginning of the spring holiday period, which typically begins in late March. Due to the subsequent holidays, schools will effectively remain closed through at least early April. The national government has also called on employers to facilitate days off for workers with school-age children and to consider telecommuting options or alter work hours to reduce congestion on public transport systems in the country. Tokyo has empowered local governments to implement a variety of restrictions at the local level. Authorities are encouraging organizers to cancel or suspend large sporting and cultural events in the country through at least mid-March.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Consider telecommuting options for staff. Make allowances for likely increased employee absenteeism and related business disruptions. 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 reservations for flights between Japan and destinations abroad. Closely monitor national travel advisories, as additional travel restrictions to and from Japan are likely.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. 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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