Japan eyes bill for hotels to refuse guests who avoid infection prevention measures

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo

Hotels and ryokan traditional Japanese inns will be able to refuse to accommodate guests if they do not take preventive measures against infectious diseases, such as wearing a mask, according to a bill to revise the Inns and Hotels Law.

The government plans to submit the bill during an extraordinary Diet session in autumn. The revision is aimed at ensuring infection prevention measures are thoroughly implemented, providing safety and security to guests.

Currently, hotel and ryokan inn operators are prohibited in principle from refusing to accommodate guests, and there is no provision that requires the businesses to request guests to take preventive measures.

The bill stipulates that operators may request guests cooperate with infection prevention measures in the event of a pandemic. The content of the request will be set forth in a government ordinance and is expected to include the wearing of masks, temperature checks and hand sanitization.

A hotel and ryokan inn operator can refuse to accommodate a guest who does not comply without a valid reason such as having a disability that makes it difficult to wear a mask.

In addition, the operators will be able to ask guests with symptoms such as a fever to report whether they are infected with COVID-19. Operators can refuse to accommodate a guest if the guest does not report such a condition without a valid reason or if the guest is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official said that guests will be subject to these rules even under the current infection classification level.

The government plans to substantially ease the COVID-19 border control measures and lift the ban on individual travelers entering Japan as early as October.

As people overseas often do not wear masks, the government plans to prepare guidelines explaining the revised law to prevent possible trouble between hotel and ryokan inn operators and foreign guests.