Govt guidelines to require foreign tourists to wear masks

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tourists from Hawaii, taking part in a government trial project to accept foreign tourists, pose for a photo at Zenkoji temple in Nagano City on May 26.

Foreign tourists will be required to wear masks and take other COVID-19 prevention measures when visiting Japan, and those who fail to comply may be banned from continuing with their travel, according to the government’s guidelines for travel agencies and tour guides released Tuesday.

The guidelines were compiled as Japan prepares to reopen its borders to foreign tourists, with the reopening planned to start on Friday. For the time being, tourists who can enter Japan will be limited to those from 98 countries and regions with a low risk of infection, taking part in package tours with tour guides.

When infection cases are found among tour participants, the infected individuals and those who had close contact with them will have to leave the tour, but other participants can continue their travel, according to the guidelines.

Travel agencies need to explain to their customers when selling tours to Japan that participants must wear masks, sanitize their hands, and have private medical insurance coverage, among other measures. Participants must be told that they may have to leave the tour if they do not comply with the measures. The agents have to obtain prior consent on these issues from the tour participants.

The COVID prevention measures required for foreign tourists have become standard practice for Japanese residents. The guidelines also include a proposal that tourists be given explanations about the necessary measures at the start of the tours in an easy-to-understand way, such as by illustrations, to help them understand such matters as when and where they would need to wear masks.

Travel companies are urged to arrange itineraries that would avoid visits to crowded places, and to consider going to facilities that take thorough infection prevention measures.

Tour guides will keep a record of participants’ activities in case of infections. Anyone developing fever or other symptoms will be isolated from the group and promptly visit a medical institution. If the person is found to be infected with the coronavirus, those who had close contact with them will have to leave the tour. The travel agents will provide support for them during their stay in Japan before going home.

Measures such as fixed seating arrangements at eateries may be effective in minimizing the number of close contacts, according to the guidelines.