TOKYO – Japan’s government is preparing to lift its travel ban for non-tourist visitors from China, South Korea, Australia and six other countries as of Nov. 1, government sources said on Friday.
The other countries added to the business travel corridor list are New Zealand, Brunei, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the Kyodo news agency, citing officials.
The new travel rules will not apply to tourist visas, and at the moment only grant entry to travelers with business visas or with special circumstances approved by Japanese authorities.
Prime minister Yoshihide Suga said in a meeting that the exemptions would be applied to countries where the COVID-19 pandemic is considered to be under control.
Travel bans for passengers from 152 countries will remain in place. Myanmar and Jordan are the latest additions to that list.
The Japanese government said that from Sunday, foreign residents returning to Japan from abroad and those who have had to travel outside the country for business will no longer have to observe an obligatory quarantine period upon arrival.
Until now the quarantine period had been set at two weeks. Those returning to Japan from abroad also had to take a COVID-19 test before boarding the plane back to the country.
In exchange for lifting the quarantine, the government is urging anyone who travels abroad to limit their visit to less than seven days and to take additional precautions upon return, such as avoiding public transport use for two weeks.
Japan has been allowing virtually no foreign nationals into the country for months. Only a few thousand foreign nationals, including foreign residents or business travelers, have been allowed inside the country.
The number of travelers to the country has declined by more than 99 percent since April, when Japan began to impose travel restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19.