Japan eased border control measures on visitors from mainland China today and will end border control measures for all overseas travellers on May 8.
The announcement follows the government’s recent relaxation of recommendations to control infection risk, including encouraging individuals to decide when to mask, ahead of the country’s reclassification of Covid-19 to a common disease on May 8.
From April 5, arrivals from mainland China will be able to enter Japan by presenting proof of having received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine rather than proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
According to chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the government decided to alter the measures for China “in light of the infection status at home and abroad, as well as border control steps taken by other Group of Seven nations”.
From May 8, in line with Japan’s downgrade of Covid-19 from a Class 2 disease (such as tuberculosis and SARS) to a Class 5 disease (such as seasonal flu), travellers will not be required to present evidence of three Covid-19 vaccination doses or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure, which is done currently.
Instead, the government will start new genomic surveillance at ports that will test arrivals for fever and other symptoms of infectious diseases.
The relaxation is welcome for the travel trade as recent long queues at Japanese airports, particularly in Tokyo and Osaka, prompted warnings of delays to be issued by agents overseas, including in popular departure destination Hong Kong.
Japan Airlines updated its notice to passengers on April 4, stating that “due to enhanced border measures, it may take a long time to complete the entry process after arrival at airports in Japan”.
Japan’s reclassification of Covid-19 will also mean the quarantine period for infected persons and close contacts will be scrapped, and any hospital — rather than solely designated facilities — will be able to treat people suspected of having the disease.