Japan to require all people entering country to submit COVID-19 test

January 09, 2021
Commuters head to work from Shimbashi Station in Tokyo on Thursday morning. — courtesy Kyodo
Commuters head to work from Shimbashi Station in Tokyo on Thursday morning. — courtesy Kyodo

TOKYO — Japan will further tighten its border controls from Saturday by requiring all people arriving to submit negative results from virus tests taken within 72 hours of their departure for Japan during the period of the latest state of emergency, Kyodo reported.

The measure will apply to those entering Japan from Wednesday and be effective until a second state of emergency that was declared Thursday is lifted, the Foreign Ministry said. The government said the emergency declaration would run through Feb. 7.

Businesspeople and students from 11 Asian nations including China and South Korea are currently allowed to enter under a special scheme aimed at easing travel restrictions.

Those from regions other than 152 nations and regions subject to an entry ban are also able to enter Japan at present.

But under the latest scheme, these people will also need to turn in negative result from a virus test taken within 72 hours of their departure and take another test upon arrival, the ministry said.

The new rule comes after Japan introduced stricter measures in late December for new entries by foreigners from around the world for business and study, in response to the detection of new variants of the coronavirus announced in Britain.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday declared a second, albeit less comprehensive, state of emergency in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, authorizing more robust measures to fight a recent surge in coronavirus infections, Kyodo reported.

“I’m highly alarmed by the severe situation nationwide recently ... as the number of patients has been extremely high,” Suga said at a government task force meeting, adding the Go To Travel domestic tourism program will be suspended while the state of emergency is in effect.

The restrictions will enter into force Friday and remain in place until Feb. 7. They will not be lifted until the affected prefectures see a significant reduction in benchmarks such as hospital occupancy rates and positivity rates.

One threshold would be daily cases declining to 500 per day in Tokyo, said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister handling the government’s coronavirus response.

The emergency declaration will entail asking residents to stay home and calls on restaurants to close by 8 p.m. Gyms, department stores and entertainment facilities will also be subject to the shorter hours.

The move comes a day after the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Japan topped 6,000 for the first time, fanning concerns hospitals could soon become overwhelmed.


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