Japan will reinstate tough border measures, barring all new foreign arrivals over the Omicron Covid variant, PM Fumio Kishida announced Monday, just weeks after a softening of strict entry rules.
Entry to Japan had been very strict to international travelers during most of the coronavirus pandemic. Just like with several countries, some of its own residents were unable to enter.
“We will ban the (new) entry of foreigners from around the world starting from November 30th,” Kishida told reporters.
Last month, Japan had announced a softening of the restrictions where some short-term business travellers, foreign students and other visa holders to enter the country, while continuing to bar tourists.
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As we are seeing with many country, Japan announced on Friday it would require travelers permitted to enter Japan from six southern African countries to quarantine in government-designated facilities for 10 days on arrival. The step was expanded to a total of nine countries over the weekend.
That measure now affects travelers coming from South Africa and neighboring Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
Kishida said Monday that further quarantine restrictions would be imposed on arrivals from an additional 14 countries and regions where the variant has been detected, without giving further details.
The prime minister said Japan is “in a stronger position against the Omicron variant than other countries,” citing voluntary mask-wearing and self-restraints about risk behaviours.
Although no confirmed case of Omicron has been reported in Japan, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases is analysing a case of a traveller from Namibia who recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
Kishida said he recognised there “might be criticism” that the border tightening was “too cautious when we don’t have a full understanding of the situation.”
“I take full responsibility for that,” he added.