Exemptions eyed for COVID testing upon arrival in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Passengers undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival at Narita Airport in March.

The government, which is considering lifting its ban on foreign tourists starting in June, is also moving toward exempting some visitors from undergoing the COVID-19 border testing that is currently required for all arrivals, several government sources said.

The exemption will be applied to visitors from countries with pre-departure PCR tests that are deemed highly accurate. The government also aims to raise the cap on international arrivals from the current limit of 10,000 people per day to 20,000.

The government, in working out the details to start accepting group tours from abroad in June, realized that the drastic increase in the number of visitors would make it difficult to continue having every individual undergo a coronavirus test.

As such, the government is considering exempting either those who come from countries that conduct pre-departure PCR tests with a proven high degree of accuracy, or those who have received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Japanese government.

Currently, all arrivals and returnees, including Japanese nationals, are required to submit a certificate of a negative PCR test result within 72 hours before departure, then undergo a quantitative antigen test at the airport upon arrival.

The government raised the cap on international arrivals from 7,000 to 10,000 on April 10. As the measures have drawn criticism from business circles as being too harsh compared to those of the United States and Europe and a hinderance to economic activity, the government plans to raise the cap further as it lifts the restriction on foreign tourists.

Foreign tourists will be restricted from using public transportation such as trains for the time being.

In a related move, the Foreign Ministry announced Monday that starting Tuesday, it would abolish the three-day quarantine in designated facilities required for visitors from South Korea. Up to then, only those who had received a third dose of vaccination were exempted from this provision.