Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has announced that Japan will reopen its borders to selected foreign visitors with permits to stay in the country from Thursday, October 1, following fewer new infections of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in recent weeks. The relaxation of restrictions will allow the entry of foreign nationals with permits to stay for three months or longer for purposes including engaging in medical, cultural, and sports-related activities. Business trips for less than three months will also be allowed. Travelers will be required to have been tested negative for the virus before entering Japan. After arrival, they have to stay in self-isolation for 14 days and avoid using public transportation during the period. Travel for purposes of tourism remains prohibited.
Authorities previously eased COVID-19 restrictions on September 19, permitting an increase in gathering sizes at sporting and cultural venues. Sporting events may go ahead with venues at 50-percent capacity, and larger cinemas and theatres are permitted reopen at 50-percent capacity. Smaller venues have had attendance limits scrapped altogether, although some chains have decided to only open at 50-percent capacity. The move follows a mandate by authorities in Tokyo to remove a measure requiring restaurants, bars, and alcohol-providing establishments to cease operations at 22:00 (local time).
The majority of nonessential businesses have been permitted to reopen in the country. The use of face masks in public areas, social distancing measures, and exercising basic precautions have been advised.
As of Sunday, September 27, Japanese authorities have recorded 81,696 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 1507 associated fatalities. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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