Travel to Japan during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go
Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on May 9.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that the strict border measures enforced to stem the spread of Covid-19 will be eased in June, bringing the country “on par” with other Group of Seven nations.
No firm date has been announced yet, nor is there a specific plan on how tourism will work.
Japan’s current border entry measures allow 10,000 new arrivals per day, but do not permit leisure tourists.
For the moment, citizens, residents, researchers, students, residents’ family members and business travelers with prior approval can enter. Some face quarantine depending on where they are arriving from.
What’s on offer
A heady mix of the cutting edge and deeply traditional, Japan remains a major draw for travelers from all over the globe. Whether participating in a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, scouring Tokyo’s Akihabara district for tech bargains or soaking in a hot onsen in the forests of Tohoku, this is a country that leaves its mark on all who visit.
Who can go
Japan has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world but hopes to reopen to some leisure travelers in June 2022.
As of March 22, there are no prefectures under the “state of emergency” or “quasi-state of emergency” designation.
What are the restrictions?
Those traveling under Japan’s revised business travel rules will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, signed and stamped by the laboratory where it was taken. While they will not need to self-isolate, they will need to provide details of their movements for the following two weeks and not use public transport.
Under these states and quasi-states, prefecture governments were allowed to make restrictions about things like crowd sizes and restaurant hours. With those designations lifted, it is possible for venues like bars, malls and cinemas to reopen.
What’s the Covid situation?
As of May 9, Japan had reported 8,055,713 confirmed cases of the virus and 29,788 deaths.
Japan’s health ministry has announced that it will allow prefectures to let younger patients who are considered lower risk to self-administer antigen tests and start isolating at home without waiting for a doctor’s diagnosis.
Previously, patients had to be registered as a Covid-19 patient by a doctor, who reported each new case to the government. If adopted, the new policy will allow patients to contact local public health centers themselves.
This measure is intended to reduce the number of people visiting hospitals and health centers.
Japan is considering following in the footsteps of Israel and encouraging older residents to get a fourth vaccine shot. The government health ministry has ordered more shots from Moderna and Pfizer in order to roll out this plan, but there is no date for the program yet.
What can visitors expect?
While much of Japan remains open for business, cities are far quieter than usual and the government has the right to request the closure of businesses in areas of high transmission. Masks must be worn in public.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Lilit Marcus contributed to this story
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