Japan May Ease Border Controls for China Visitors by End of Feb.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A passenger arriving from mainland China submits a negative test certificate for novel coronavirus at Narita Airport in January.

The government plans to ease COVID-19-related border control measures for visitors from China as early as late February, it has been learned.

Since late December, people entering Japan directly from mainland China have been required to test for the novel coronavirus. With the easing of the rules, however, blanket testing will be abandoned, and passengers will be randomly selected to take a test. The government will also lift a restriction on arrivals — currently limited to Narita, Haneda, Kansai International and Chubu Centrair International airports — and allow more flights from China.

To date, no unknown coronavirus variants have been detected in passengers entering Japan from China, leading the government to deem that testing all arrivals was no longer a high priority. Nevertheless, passengers will still be required to submit a certificate showing a negative test result obtained within 72 hours of departure.

Presently, passengers who fly directly from Macao or transit through a third country after having been on the Chinese mainland in the seven days prior to entering Japan are also tested for coronavirus when entering Japan. However, with the relaxation of the measures, tests — including random tests — will no longer be carried out on such people.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the test positivity rate for those entering from mainland China has remained below 1% since late January. The only new variant detected in genome analyses was the omicron variant, which already exists in Japan.