Japan Eases Many Covid-Era Border Restrictions as Cases Slump
(Bloomberg) -- Japan announced a broad easing of Covid-era border control measures that will relax restrictions for visitors such as students and those traveling for business, seeking to reopen the economy after a dramatic drop in virus cases and a vaccination campaign that’s inoculated more than 70% of the population.
The changes, which take effect Monday, would shorten quarantine from 10 to 3 days for short-term business travelers and Japanese nationals or foreign residents returning from abroad if they have received a vaccine approved in Japan, according to a Friday announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Nikkei reported the news earlier this week.
The easing also means the government will begin reissuing visas for long and short-term stays, which will mainly affect foreign students, technical trainee workers and those relocating to Japan for work. Tourists are still not allowed in the country.
The loosening of restrictions comes as the number of coronavirus cases have plummeted to a few hundred per day nationally, and after Japan’s ruling party maintained its majority in Sunday’s national election. The island nation had enacted one of the strictest border policies among developed nations during the pandemic, effectively banning most foreigners from entering unless they already held a visa.
The latest easing won’t fully apply to a small list of countries Japan still deems high-risk, and those who’ve received vaccines other than those approved by Japan -- shots from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. or AstraZeneca Plc. -- also won’t qualify.
Much of the Covid border restrictions have affected students and technical workers trying to enter Japan. In recent months, business lobbies and foreign chambers of commerces had begun calling for the government to ease restrictions.
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