TOKYO, May 17, 2020, Kyodo. Japan will reopen its borders in stages after the novel coronavirus outbreak is brought under control, with businesspeople among the first allowed to enter, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says, Japan Today reported.
“When we do begin easing travel restrictions, it will be a step-by-step process with essential personnel coming first,” he told a press conference.
Japan has banned the entry of foreign nationals who have been to any of 100 countries and regions in the previous two weeks.
China and South Korea have similar measures in place but this month began allowing business people who have tested negative for the coronavirus to travel between the countries.
Such an easing would come after closely monitoring the global situation and would also require that Japan has contained its outbreak, Motegi said.
A state of emergency was lifted for 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures on Thursday amid a declining number of new COVID-19 cases, though it remains in force in the Tokyo and Osaka regions. More than 16,000 people have been infected nationwide so far, with the death toll topping 700.
Motegi also said Japan would lift its travel restrictions on several countries at a time, for example in groups of 10, rather than individually. He added that countries removed from the entry ban list would be expected to reciprocate.