The government is planning to soon allow business travelers to enter Japan for three days or less without staying in quarantine for 14 days after arrival, provided they meet certain conditions, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
This move is aimed at energizing business dealings with other countries and boosting the recovery of Japan’s economy, which has been battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to government sources, the entry restrictions could be eased as soon as November. The loosened requirements will apply to travelers from nations and regions with strong economic ties to Japan, including China, South Korea and Taiwan.
The conditions these travelers must meet are likely to include undergoing a coronavirus test; not using public transport in Japan; avoiding places where unspecified large numbers of people come and go; traveling only between certain locations, such as work-related venues; and submitting a document detailing where they will stay and what they plan to do in Japan. These travelers will be exempt from the two-week quarantine at a hotel or elsewhere upon arrival.
Travelers from 30 nations and regions from which many people visit Japan for business may be eligible for the exemption. These places include China, South Korea and Taiwan, which have brought coronavirus infections under control, but they also include the United States and India, where the virus continues to spread rapidly.
Consequently, the government is considering narrowing down the number of eligible countries and territories, or imposing stricter conditions for entering Japan on people from certain places, the sources said.
The government will make a final decision on which nations and regions are eligible after assessing their respective situations regarding the coronavirus.
The government has so far reopened travel for short-term business trips to and from individual nations with which an agreement has been reached. These negotiations took a long time to wrap up, and agreements have been signed with only three nations — Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. The government hopes taking the initiative in opening the door to very short business trips of three days or less also will nudge other countries to allow in more Japanese travelers.
At present, coronavirus testing available at Narita, Haneda and Kansai airports has the combined capacity to check 10,000 people per day. According to the sources, the government plans to increase this capacity to 20,000 people daily, and decided it would be possible to handle visitors arriving for very short business trips. The move also has been made with an eye on the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to be held next summer.
“These ‘very short-term stays’ will be a model for allowing in tourists during the Olympics,” a senior government official said.
The government has been steadily expanding travel for businesspeople. It has completed agreements with 10 nations and regions, including Thailand and Vietnam, that allow travel for medium-length and long stays, benefiting businesspeople with long-term assignments overseas.
From November, the government also plans to allow Japanese returning to Japan from overseas business trips to be exempt from the 14-day quarantine under certain conditions.