Travel under the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is still limited, with people from 142 countries and regions denied entry into Japan. Back in June, Japan discussed the idea of a travel bubble, which would allow travellers from regions with similar coronavirus safety protocols to enter the country, and vice versa. Australia, Thailand, New Zealand and Vietnam were on Japan’s travel bubble shortlist – there was even a chartered test flight from Japan to Vietnam in June – and the goal was to prioritise business travellers, followed by highly skilled workers, students and finally tourists. The list of potential travel bubble partners was expanded to include ten more Asian countries and regions in July, including Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore, but there haven’t been any concrete developments since then.
Now, it seems like a travel bubble is finally happening. On Thursday August 13, Japan and Singapore agreed to ease restrictions on travellers starting in September. The Japan Times reports that the Japan Foreign Ministry said the agreement ‘will cover short-term business travelers as well as expatriates and other long-term residents’.
The requirements for entering either country are strict: expats and long-term residents will have to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Business travellers won’t have to self-quarantine, but will have to provide a full itinerary for their trip, only travel between their workplace and accommodation, refrain from using public transport, and avoid crowds and contact with strangers
Travellers entering Japan will have to install the Covid-19 contact tracing app, agree to store their phone’s GPS data for two weeks, and report their health condition to ‘authorities’ via the Line messaging app for 14 days after arriving. There is no mention of people needing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in the report, although Japan is planning on building testing centres in Tokyo and Osaka city centres as well as Narita, Haneda and Kansai airports in September. A negative test result before or after flying has been mentioned as a prerequisite for visitors in past travel bubble announcements.
Get live updates on the Covid-19 coronavirus situation in Tokyo and Japan here.
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