Japan starts accepting requests for eased Covid-19 quarantine rule

Morning commuters prepare to board a train in Yokohama, Japan, on Monday, May 14, 2018. Japan is scheduled to release its first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures on May 16. Photographer: Takaaki Iwabu/Bloomberg. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Nov 8, 2021, Kyodo. Japan’s government started on Monday accepting applications for sharply reduced COVID-19 quarantine periods for vaccinated business travelers, ending a ban in principle on entry by overseas-based foreign businesspeople introduced in January, Kyodo News Agency reported.

The new rules, introduced following progress in inoculations around the world and requests from Japan’s business community, allow business travelers to undergo quarantine for three days, compared with the 10 that formerly applied to vaccinated Japanese nationals and foreigners with residency in Japan when returning from business trips.

Overseas businesspeople must be on visits of up to three months to qualify for the measure.

Travelers must have been fully inoculated with one of the three vaccines approved by the Japanese government — those developed by Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. or AstraZeneca Plc.

Firms will need to submit documentation for business travelers, including written pledges by the businesspeople and companies to follow anti-virus measures as well as the planned activities by the travelers upon arrival in Japan.

It may take a week or two before the first travelers who have been granted shorter COVID quarantine periods arrive in the country, a health ministry official said.

People who enter under the new program must be tested for COVID several times, including before departing for Japan and three days after arriving in the country.

The government also resumed accepting applications on Monday morning from those who seek to stay in the country over the long term, including students and technical trainees, amid a sharp decline in coronavirus infections in Japan.

Their quarantine period will be 14 days in principle but shortened to 10 days for those who receive one of the three vaccines approved in Japan.

Japan suspended in January the new entry of foreigners, including businesspeople, in principle, following an explosive virus resurgence and the spread of highly contagious variants.

Since then, it has only accepted individuals under “special circumstances,” such as on humanitarian grounds.

While the government will continue to suspend entry of people for sightseeing and tourism purposes, it plans to begin considering accepting such people by the end of this year.

The number of coronavirus cases has declined in Japan following this summer’s fifth wave of infections, and economic activities have further resumed.

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