Japan to extend entry ban to Russia, 13 other countries till end of May: PM Abe

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a debate session ahead of July 21 upper house election at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Apr 27, 2020, Kyodo. Japan will deny entry to foreign travelers from a further 14 countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, strengthening its border controls to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday, Kyodo News reported.

With the entry ban effective from Wednesday, those who have been to the countries within two weeks of their arrival in Japan will be turned away at the border. Speaking at a meeting of the government’s task force on the coronavirus response, Abe also said Japan will extend its suspension of visas issued to foreign travelers to the end of May.

Japan has been scrambling to stop a rapid rise in cases of COVID-19, with the population being urged to stay at home and some businesses being asked to temporarily close in order to reduce person-to-person interactions that could spread the respiratory disease.

The other countries subject to the entry ban are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry last week warned Japanese citizens against any trips to these countries, raising its travel alert to the second-highest level.

That brings the total number of countries and regions covered by the entry ban to 87, including China, South Korea, the United States and all of Europe.

The stronger border controls have already stopped most foreign travelers from coming to Japan, with government data for March showing a 93 percent drop from a year earlier.

While Japanese citizens are able to re-enter the country, they are required to be tested for the coronavirus and self-isolate for two weeks to look out for the onset of symptoms such as high fever and coughing.

Japan has meanwhile suspended visas and short-stay visa waivers for citizens of countries not covered by the entry ban. It previously said the measure would be in place until the end of April but was extended by one month as the outbreak continues to spread globally.

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