Govt dials back restrictions on flights from Hong Kong, Macao

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Hong Kong Airlines airplane is seen at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido.

The government has revised recently announced COVID-19 measures that would have prevented flights from Hong Kong and Macao from landing at New Chitose, Fukuoka and Naha airports.

Tougher border restrictions took effect Friday in response to the rapid spread of novel coronavirus infections in China.

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that travelers from China and those who have stayed in mainland China within the past seven days would be subject to viral testing upon arrival, regardless of nationality.

The government initially said flights from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao would be limited to four airports — Narita, Haneda, Kansai and Chubu — in order to improve the efficiency of quarantine.

The government assumed that flights from Hong Kong and Macao would have a large number of passengers with a history of travel in mainland China. However, the announcement caused turmoil among Hong Kong travel agencies that operate tours to Hokkaido and Okinawa. The Hong Kong government subsequently requested Japan to revise the restrictions. Okinawa’s tourism sector also asked for the restrictions to be reconsidered.

As a result, the Japanese government revised the measures, under which seven airports will accept flights from Hong Kong and Macao, as long as no passengers have stayed in mainland China within the past seven days.

However, the number of flights from China, Hong Kong and Macao will not increase.

Passengers from all countries will continue to be required to undergo testing if they have symptoms such as fever.