Government sets a date for opening the country’s borders to the world again.

It’s been over half a year since Japan closed its borders to international tourists as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And while it’s dealt a particularly hard blow to the tourism industry, especially in light of the fact that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was scheduled to bring in millions of visitors during the summer of 2020, so far it’s helped to keep cases of coronavirus relatively low and prevented the collapse of the local health system.

Now that the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to begin on 23 July — pandemic or not, according to reports — the topic of when to start lifting the entry ban on tourists from overseas has become a pressing issue. The Japanese Government, who recently lifted the ban on non-citizen foreign residents from October, says they’ve now begun “full-scale” investigations into how and when they’ll be opening up the country to foreign tourists.

Government officials have revealed that they plan to have coronavirus countermeasures set up for international tourists by January next year. Once these safety measures are in place, the government says Japan plans to lift the ban on foreign tourists on a trial basis from April 2021, while keeping an eye on the pandemic situation in Japan and overseas.

The new safety measures aim to cover the three steps of a tourist’s “journey” from arrival through to stay and departure, with the establishment of a health management map and a dedicated “fever centre”. Foreign tourists who wish to visit Japan will be required to download the health management app, and it will be obligatory to obtain a pre-departure coronavirus-negative test certificate.

If a new arrival does test positive for the virus after entering the country, they will be required to take out private medical insurance. Those who test negative upon arrival will not be required to quarantine inside a hotel — instead, they’ll be required to report their health status through the app for 14 days after entering Japan.

The tentatively named “Fever Health Consultation Support Centre” will be set up specifically for overseas visitors as a way to take the pressure off local governments and avoid overburdening the Japanese health system. The Health Centre will likely be set up in Tokyo, the host city for the Olympics.

Government officials say the new safety measures for foreign visitors will remain in place after the Olympics as Japan attempts to take measured steps towards reviving international tourism. However, the government admits there are still many issues that need to be resolved before the ban on foreign tourists is lifted, including how to ensure the app is used correctly, the number of tourists allowed in during the Olympics, and what limits, if any, will be placed on the activities of tourists while in the country.

Source: Yahoo! News Japan via Jin
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