Travel restrictions

Japan struggles to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated people

TOKYO – Japan has so far refused to ease its request for a 14-day quarantine for travelers from overseas even as other major economies decide to drop these requirements for those vaccinated.

Following a request from main business lobby Keidanren this month, Tokyo signaled its intention to gradually ease restrictions. He plans to shorten the length of the quarantine but remains reluctant to give it up altogether.

Delays in easing travel restrictions would prevent business travelers from coming to Japan. Japanese professionals are also said to be reluctant to go abroad as they face a 14-day quarantine upon their return. Keidanren is concerned about the impact on business.

The government started issuing vaccine passports at the end of July. The certificate is now accepted by more than 30 countries and regions. But the list does not include the Americas, a major destination for Japanese business travelers.

Travel restrictions are governed by the principle of reciprocity. If Japan refuses to ease restrictions on foreign travelers, other countries are likely to impose similar rules on travelers from Japan.

Other countries have made progress in resuming business travel. The UK will allow vaccinated travelers from 17 countries and regions, including Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, to skip a 10-day quarantine starting next month.

Pre-travel COVID testing will also be removed for travelers from countries where infections are deemed to be under control. PCR tests after arrival will also be replaced by rapid tests.

Likewise, France has waived its seven-day quarantine and tests for people with proof of vaccination. Italy has also lifted the quarantine for vaccinated travelers from Japan, the United States and other selected countries. Singapore has also dropped the quarantine requirement for vaccinated travelers from Germany and elsewhere.

The United States leaves the care to each state, but guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t call for quarantine for fully vaccinated people if they test negative after arrival.

The European Union has been using a digital vaccination passport since July to waive quarantines and testing in all 27 member countries, as well as Switzerland and Norway.

By easing restrictions on those vaccinated, nations are trying to resume economic activity while containing the pandemic. The airline industry, in particular, was eager to see such a change.

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