Are foreigners allowed to enter Japan during COVID-19? – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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It’s not a secret that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries accepted the quarantine mode, entry bans, and limitations on residents and non-residents. Other countries and regions have imposed global restrictions that apply to all foreign countries and territories or prohibit their citizens from traveling abroad.
Travel limitations have reduced the spread of the virus, but since they were first introduced after community spread was identified in many countries around the world, they have resulted in only a small decrease in the total number of people infected. Travel restrictions can be most critical at the beginning and end of a pandemic.
These traveling restrictions resulted an economic damage to the tourism industry. This is happening because the loss of income and social harm to people who were unable to travel for any reason. Many people are expected to resume travel once travel bans are lifted. However, some travel, especially business travel, may be cut short in the long term as cheaper alternatives such as teleconferencing and virtual events are preferred.
A study in the journal Science found that travel restrictions can delay the initial arrival of COVID-19 into a country, but they produce only modest overall effects if combined with infection prevention and control measures to significantly reduce transmission. (This is consistent with previous research on influenza and other infectious diseases. Travel bans may be most effective in isolated locations such as small island states.
The researchers concluded that “travel restrictions are most useful in the early and late phases of the epidemic” and “travel restrictions from Wuhan were unfortunately introduced too late.”
A long-term impact resulted the reduction in the number of business travel and international conferences. Concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of travel restrictions that lead the spread of COVID-19.
About 45 countries in the world had a ban on arrivals, and among that list we can find Japan. Later in this article we will see can foreigners visit Japan during the pandemic.
Border enforcement measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
According to the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, currently, foreign nationals who have been in any of the following 159 countries/regions (listed below) within 14 days prior to the application for disembarkation are denied entry to Japan pursuant to paragraph (1) of Article 5, subparagraph (xiv) of the Immigration Control Act, and recognition of refugee status, unless special exceptional circumstances are found.
Note that foreigners (from countries and regions where no entry bans apply) are not denied entry to Japan, even if they enter Japan through countries or regions that may be denied entry for refueling or transit. However, there will be an entry ban for those who have entered these countries or regions.
Please visit this page Opening a new window for more information on denied boarding to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Countries/regions where permission to enter Japan may be refused:
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste
Canada, United States of America
Latin America and the Caribbean
Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan , Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Great Britain, Uzbekistan, Vatican
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
Algeria, Botswana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central Africa, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya , Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan , Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Quarantine measures (updated)
The current quarantine measures are strengthened as follows. It was decided to keep these measures in effect until further notice. For travelers arriving from countries/regions where community transmission of the coronavirus variants of concern is observed, and countries/regions where authorities have announced confirmation of internal infection with a novel coronavirus variant, see (2) and also (1).
(1) Compulsory quarantine measures
Effective March 19, 2021, all travelers, including Japanese nationals, must present a negative test result certificate taken within 72 hours prior to leaving the country/region where they are staying upon entering Japan. Those who fail to present a negative test result will be denied entry to Japan under the Quarantine Law. Airlines will refuse to board for those who do not have such an opportunity. Please check with the Japanese embassies or consulates or consular office if it is really difficult to obtain a negative test result.
Effective January 8, 2021, everyone who enters, re-enters, or returns to Japan (including Japanese citizens) is also subject to a COVID-19 test upon arrival, regardless of whether they are arriving from countries/regions designated as a zone subject to denial of permission to enter Japan or refusal until further notice. They must then remain for 14 days at the location indicated by the head of the quarantine station (their own place of residence, etc.), and refrain from using public transport.
From January 14, 2021, and until further notice, all Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with residence status must also commit to refrain from using public transport for 14 days and be quarantined at home or other designated areas for 14 days. save your location data and share it with medical centers or other agencies if needed. (If separate quarantine measures are to be taken, they must also be laid down.) They are required to sign and submit a Written Pledge (PDF) Open a new window upon entering Japan. If violated, they may be subject to detention under the Quarantine Act and the following provisions shall apply:
(Ⅰ) For Japanese citizens, names and other information to help prevent the spread of infection may be released to the public.
(Ⅱ) For foreign citizens with residence status, names, citizenship and other information that helps prevent the spread of infection may be made public. They can also be subject to revocation of residence status and deportation procedures under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. Those who do not submit the “Written Promise” are encouraged to stay at the location indicated by the quarantine station manager (only in the premises reserved by the quarantine office) for 14 days.
What you should know before traveling to Japan
Initially, Japan boasted of containing the virus during the first wave but has seen several spikes in the incidence since then.
On September 22, Japan’s health ministry agreed to loosen travel restrictions for visitors who can show evidence of full coronavirus vaccination.
Travelers will need to show proof of receipt of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, as they are currently the only vaccines accepted in Japan.
Eligible travelers will no longer have to undergo a 14-day quarantine – instead, they can go through 10. At the end of the 10-day period, they must have a PCR test. If the test result is negative, the person will be able to move freely.
As a result of the ever-increasing number of cases, restrictions in the Tokyo area have been eased. More than 100,000 restaurants and bars in the capital have been certified, which means they and their employees have been deemed safe enough to resume normal operations. Non-certified establishments must stop serving alcohol by 20:00 and near 9.
Japan was and still remains a hot spot for millions of travelers from all over the world. Whether you’re attending a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, exploring Tokyo’s Akihabara area for tech bargains, or relaxing in hot onsen in the Tohoku forests, the country leaves its mark on everyone who visits.
Japan has some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world. Visitors from Australia, Brunei, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam can enter the country, although those traveling from China and South Korea can only enter the country via Tokyo Narita – an airport. In addition, those traveling to study, work or join a family can enter (subject to a visa).
However, there are many exceptions and the rules are constantly changing. The government reserves the right to change these rules if and when new variants are discovered or there are spikes in other countries.
From 19 September, visitors from the following countries are no longer required to spend three days in government quarantine in addition to 10 days of self-isolation: Andorra, Belarus, Cambodia, Fiji, Finland, France, Ireland, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Namibia, Netherlands, Oman, Thailand, Tunisia, USA, and Zimbabwe.
What are the limitations? The travelers who are under Japan’s revised business travel regulations will have to show a proof of a negative PCR test result, that have to be taken within 72 hours of departure, signed and stamped by the laboratory from which it was taken. While they will not need to self-isolate, they will need to provide detailed information on their movements for the next two weeks and not use public transport.
From October 1, Japan will be completely rid of the designations of “state of emergency” or “quasi-state of emergency”. This is the first time since April that no prefecture will be in any of the categories.
In these states and quasi-states, prefectural governments were allowed to impose restrictions on things like crowd size and restaurant opening hours. With the abolition of these designations, it will be possible to resume the opening of establishments such as bars, shopping centers, and cinemas.
As of October 21, Japan had 1,716,508 confirmed cases of the virus and 18,166 deaths. These numbers do not include any positive cases related to the Olympic or Paralympic Games. About 67% of the residents eligible for vaccination are fully vaccinated.
The introduction of the vaccine in Japan started slowly but accelerated significantly during the summer. The percentage of the population fully vaccinated against coronavirus exceeded 50% in the week of September 6.
What awaits foreigners after landing at Tokyo airport
Thus, the island state cannot currently be visited on a tourist visa. At the same time, the authorities of the Land of the Rising Sun continue to accept foreign citizens who live and work in the Japanese archipelago on a long-term visa.
Upon arrival in Japan from abroad, such categories of citizens will have to go through a number of procedures related to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the spread of the infection in the world, the number of flights from Moscow to Tokyo has significantly decreased. Aeroflot and JAL aircraft now operate one flight a week. At the same time, the cabins of the liners, as a rule, are only partially filled.
Passengers are accommodated in places, taking into account the observance of social distance, which makes their stay in the air safer and more comfortable. Flight attendants are vigilant that passengers do not remove their face masks during the flight, except for short meal intervals.
So, those traveling to Japan should take care of passing the PCR test for coronavirus in advance and take a certificate in English with the result of the analysis. In accordance with the requirements of the Japanese side, testing should be carried out no earlier than 72 hours before departure. At the same time, on the official website of the Japanese Embassy in Russia, they draw attention to the fact that the PCR analysis should be done on the basis of a swab from the nasopharynx, analysis of saliva or a swab from the nasopharynx and oropharynx. “The results of the test made on the basis of a swab from the oropharynx are not accepted,” – says the page of the Japanese diplomatic mission.
Upon arrival in Japan, you need to be patient and prepare for new procedures, which will take at least a few hours. Basically, this is filling out various kinds of questionnaires in which you will need to briefly talk about your current state of health, your recent contacts with those infected with coronavirus or colds, as well as your recent trips to foreign countries.
After that, the guests of the Japanese archipelago will be sent to take another test for COVID-19. To do this, you will be given a special plastic tube for saliva. The results will be ready in at least an hour and a half, which will have to be spent in the waiting room.
If there is no infection in the samples, the airport staff will ask the arriving passengers to install several applications on their smartphones, with the help of which, during the two-week quarantine, the Japanese quarantine services will carry out social monitoring of those who have arrived in the country and track their contacts with infected people.
With the help of applications, after receiving the corresponding push notifications, it will be necessary to send your current geolocation daily, fill out a health questionnaire, and also answer video calls. Moreover, calls are made both in automatic mode, during which your image is recorded for 30 seconds by a robot, and by operators who independently inquire about the current state of health of the observed, clarify their location, confirm that the interlocutors are at home and do not go outside.
In addition, the app notifies users of potential contacts with COVID-19 patients. For example, if in the cabin of the plane on which people were traveling to Tokyo, there were passengers who had been diagnosed with coronavirus after landing. Such cases happen periodically.
After completing all the formalities, including the passage of immigration control and customs, arriving in Tokyo in organized groups are seated on buses and sent to a three-day quarantine in hotels located near Tokyo.
In hotels, guests are accommodated in compact, but rather cozy rooms with a TV, shower, small refrigerator, and kettle. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, there is a wireless Internet connection so that those working remotely can safely continue their work activities.
In the process of isolation, the Japanese side at its own expense provides guests with three meals a day and drinking water. The food is pretty basic. As a rule, these are complex sets in which you can find rice, meat or fish, pasta with mayonnaise, pieces of vegetables, slices of fruit, and even small cakes. Everything is beautifully packaged in traditional bento boxes that are delivered to your rooms without contact. By the way, you can order vegetarian or halal meals during check-in at the hotel.
The staff leaves the food packages on the door handles from the outside, after which they inform the guests about the possibility to pick up the food through the public address system. When at 7-30 in the morning a short musical splash is heard in the room and the message about the need to pick up breakfast is repeated twice in Japanese and English, I must admit, you do not feel quite comfortable.
By the way, during the quarantine at the hotel, using online stores, you can order the delivery of a variety of goods, including drinks, books, and much more. Hot dishes are subject to restrictions. The hotel staff will notify by phone about the arrival of the courier, after which they will independently pick up the order and leave at the door of the room, after knocking and making sure that you are ready to accept it.
On the third day of your stay at the hotel, in the morning, you will be asked to re-test for coronavirus. For this, plastic test tubes will be distributed by numbers. After that, the Japanese equipped in protective gear will take saliva samples from the guests. In this case, the samples will be asked to be kept in the room until the arrival of specialists and not to be placed in the corridor, apparently for fear of incidents with the replacement of samples.
During the day, you will be informed of the test results and, if there is no infection, they will indicate the time of boarding custom buses to the airport. From the air harbor, you will need to get to your apartment or another hotel for further isolation. However, you cannot use public transport for such trips. Relatives, friends, colleagues or a specially ordered car can be delivered to your home.
It is prohibited to go out and contact healthy people during the quarantine process. Violators can be subject to severe sanctions, up to visa cancellation and deportation from the country.
Reasons to visit Japan
1. Tradition. Traditions Japan is rich in its own traditions and customs, so it is simply impossible to list them all. Over the years, a sense of beauty has been nurtured in Japan, which has become something of a religious worship of beauty. This is the origin of such traditions as: hanami – admiring flowers; tsukimi – admiring the moon; yukimi – admiring the snow. The Japanese themselves believe that their sense of beauty, which is passed down from generation to generation, is the property of the Japanese people, which foreigners can only admire.
2. Hanami. Sakura is a symbol of Japan and Japanese culture. Images of the flower are used everywhere: on the headdresses of students and the military, on coins, in denominations of 100 yen, on the coats of arms of the police and military forces. Sakura is also a symbol of feminine beauty and youth.
If you are lucky enough to be in Japan during the cherry blossom season (late March-early April), then you will not remain indifferent to the ancient tradition of Hanami – admiring flowers.
3. Kitchen. Cuisine One of the reasons to visit the country is the now-famous cuisine. Any gourmet will agree: if you have not tried the real Japanese cuisine, you do not know its taste. Special tours are offered, focusing on the national cuisine. So, you will have the opportunity to visit well-known places where you will be offered wonderful dishes. And when you return home, you can confidently call yourself a connoisseur of Japanese cuisine.