TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday announced plans to ease border controls from early September by eliminating pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers who have received at least three doses of the vaccine, and it will also consider raising daily entry caps as of next month.
Japan, which has imposed some of the strictest border measures for the coronavirus, currently requires negative PCR test results within 72 hours of departure for all entrants, a practice that has been criticized as cumbersome.
Kishida, after holding virtual meetings with government ministers and medical advisers earlier on Wednesday, told reporters in an online press conference that participants who have received at least one booster shot can waive the test. pre-entry from 7 September.
“We plan to gradually relax border controls to allow entry procedures to be as smooth as those of other Group of Seven countries,” Kishida said from his official residence, where he was on duty while on duty. insulator after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. .
Kishida said his government also plans to increase the daily cap for inbound travelers, currently set at 20,000, “as soon as possible”. According to media reports, the government plans to more than double the daily cap to 50,000 as early as next month.
“Our fight against the virus is not easy, but we should not be too afraid and rather consider the characteristics of the omicron variant,” Kishida said. “We will accelerate our responses while balancing infection measures and social and economic activities as much as possible.”
Kishida said Japan plans to shorten the self-isolation period for COVID-19 patients from the current 10 days for those with symptoms and one week for those without symptoms. Officials are finalizing those details, he said.
In June, Japan partially opened its borders to foreign tourists for the first time in two years, but only allows those who agree to participate in package tours with guides. The number of entrants decreased under these restrictions.
Business organizations in Japan and abroad have called on the country to ease its border controls to support the economy, especially the tourism industry, which has been badly hit by the pandemic. But many Japanese are reluctant to ease border measures further as the country grapples with a seventh wave of infections.
Clinics have been inundated with patients with mild symptoms such as fever, sore throat and cough, amid a lack of tests and test kits in pharmacies and online.