THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
June 18, 2020 at 18:53 JST
Travelers are checked for fevers through thermography at a quarantine station in Kansai Airport in January. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan will ease entry restrictions for a limited number of business travelers, long-term stay foreign residents and technical interns who must adhere to strict rules and conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The eased measures, approved by the National Security Council on June 18, will be taken on a trial basis likely in the summer, with a daily limit of about 250 entrants.
Although the government will continue its entry bans for dozens of countries and maintain its advisory for Japanese not to go abroad, it has been talking with Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand about reopening borders for travelers.
“Exceptional” entry quotas will be available for business people or engineers on short-term trips to Japan who meet specific requirements.
For example, their health conditions must be observed for two weeks before entry. They also must submit certificates showing negative results for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and they must provide itineraries on where they will stay and work and who they will meet in Japan.
At the port of entry, they are required to undergo a PCR test to confirm they are not infected with the novel coronavirus.
For two weeks after their arrival, they can only travel between the places where they are staying and their workplaces. They are not allowed to use public transportation.
In addition, they must install a “virus contact” app and record their locations on their mobile phones.
According to government officials, if malicious cases emerge, such as the entrants visiting places not on listed in their plans, they could be deported or have their visas canceled.
Long-term stay foreign residents and technical interns will be instructed to stay at home for two weeks after their arrival.
But if they need to move around right after they enter the country, they must follow the same requirements as those imposed on the short-term business travelers.
The relaxed restrictions will likely apply first to travelers from Vietnam this summer, followed by Thailand. Australia and New Zealand will probably reopen their borders with Japan after the summer.
The Japanese government and the four countries are also discussing possible similar anti-virus precautions for Japanese business people when they leave their home country.
In addition, the government plans to widen the capacity of PCR tests to use saliva samples and establish “PCR test centers” in Tokyo and near major airports.
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