Narita airport
Photo: Bazta/DreamstimeStock image of Narita Airport

Japan updates its quarantine rules and extends entry restrictions

All foreign travellers are still banned, but a few concessions have been made for entry into Japan

Kaila Imada

The state of emergency in Greater Tokyo has been lifted on Monday March 22. However, existing travel restrictions including the ban on all foreign travellers will remain in place. The government is also tightening quarantine rules for citizens and foreign residents returning from countries or regions where the new Covid-19 variants have been reported.

If you’re travelling during this time, here’s what you need to know.

  • The current ban on new arrivals still stands, meaning only Japanese citizens and foreign residents with valid residency status are allowed to re-enter the country.

  • The ban on foreign travellers applies to all new visa applicants including students and business travellers. Those who have obtained a Certificate of Eligibility, which confirms their eligibility for a new visa, are also restricted. However, exceptions can be made in cases of emergency and for those who fall under special circumstances. As of March 22, the list of special cases which are allowed to enter Japan now includes: spouses and children of Japanese and foreign residents; foreign medical workers coming into the country for employment at a local healthcare institution; university professors and instructors; and people (who departed Japan before August 31) whose re-entry permit had expired while abroad.

  • International arrivals are required to take a Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to their departure back to Japan and submit a negative test result certificate upon arrival. Another coronavirus test must be taken upon arrival and travellers are subject to a 14-day quarantine. A pledge must also be signed as an agreement to abide by the quarantine rules. From March 19, airline companies will prevent individuals without a negative test result certificate from boarding the flight.

  • As of March 18, inbound travellers must install three apps on their smartphones before departing for Japan: the government's Covid-19 contact tracing app Cocoa (for iOS and Android), the government's OSSMA location confirmation app (for iOS and Android), and Skype. If travellers don't have a personal smartphone, they must rent one at the airport.
  • Those arriving from countries or regions where the new coronavirus variants have been reported must self-isolate for the first three days at a designated facility allocated by the government. They must also undergo another Covid-19 test on the third day. These regions currently include: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Those tested negative upon arrival may return home or go to their accommodation for the 14-day quarantine period. To get into the city, public transport is not allowed. Overseas arrivals are asked to take private cars, dedicated buses or selected trains to get out of the airport.

The revised quarantine measures have come into effect since Friday February 5. Additionally, foreign residents who break quarantine rules will be penalised and could have their residency status revoked. This report also states that from February 13, authorities will be allowed to impose fines and legal penalties on those who break the quarantine law, which may include a one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥1 million.

In the meantime, the state of emergency in Tokyo has been lifted on March 22. As reported by The Japan Times, the country will maintain its strict border control measures.

This report was originally published on February 5 and updated on March 22.

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