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Japan COVID-19: Authorities lift mandatory testing and ease other border restrictions

Japan continues to lift more COVID-19 related restrictions in order to aid the ailing tourism industry. On 24 August 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that tourists who have taken three shots of the vaccine need not go through mandatory testing before departure. 

As part of the trial project to ‘test tourism’ that began in May 2022, the Japanese government laid down a number of rules on 7 June, which tourists have to follow every time they enter the island nation. 

Here are more details for those visiting Japan 

Relaxation of rules and protocols

Over the last two years, Japan had set some of the strictest border restrictions to prevent the spread of infection. However, as part of its trial tourism project, the government is allowing tourists to enter under several conditions. Besides allowing only a limited number of visitors and wearing masks at all times, the protocols also require them to be accompanied by designated tour guides at all times.

However, since such measures still couldn’t revive the tourism industry, Tokyo has taken a call to further relax these measures. From 7 September 2022, the country will lift the mandatory PCR test for those who have taken the booster vaccine dose. According to a report by The Washington Post, Japan will also increase the cap on the number of visitors entering daily which currently stands at 20,000. Although a new figure hasn’t been mentioned,  the headcount can go up to 50,000 as per Nikkei Asia

Addressing a press conference, PM Kishida also said that the country is considering lifting the need for travellers to come as part of tourist groups or be accompanied by a guide throughout. He said that these steps are being taken, “to enable smooth entry into Japan in a manner similar to other G-7 countries.”

Who can enter Japan?

Currently, only international students, business travellers and family members of Japanese citizens are allowed to enter the country.

Besides getting a COVID-19 test 72 hours before departure, everyone stepping in is required to register the test result with the government and procure a QR code for immigration.

Boost to Japan’s tourism sector

The country’s tourism industry has been requesting the government to relax border restrictions for attracting foreign visitors to take advantage of a weakened Yen, for a long time. According to the Nikkei Asia report, despite a daily headcount of 20,000, the Japan National Tourism Organisation said that only 140,000 people visited in the whole month of July. And, these figures come nowhere close to the pre-pandemic scenario. 

Before the pandemic, travellers’ footfall to the country had grown five times between 2011 and 2019. In 2019, the country saw a record foreign footfall of 32 million and forecasted the number to reach 40 million in 2020.  As per a Bloomberg report, “Several tourism-related stocks gained on the news. Japan Airlines climbed as much as 4.5 percent, while Japan Airport Terminal surged 6.8 percent. Travel agency HIS, a sector bellwether, erased a morning loss and rose as much as 2.7 percent.”

(Main and feature image credit: David Edelstein/ @jlhopes/ Unsplash)

The story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore

Trinetra Paul

An ardent foodie, Trinetra seeks every opportunity of travelling and writing. Storytelling and slam poetry are her go-to jam. Her lazying around ideas includes binge watching and whipping up some snacks or searching the next place to visit.

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