Japan has announced that it will end a two-year pandemic lockdown and reopen its doors to tourists from 98 countries and regions next month, but travelers will only be allowed in as part of tour groups.
The decision comes after the government said last week that it would do so A test that allows small group tours With visitors from the US, Australia, Thailand and Singapore this month.
On Thursday, the government revised border controls to resume accepting package flights from 98 countries and territories – including Britain, the US, France, Spain, Canada and Malaysia – starting June 10.
Japan will also increase the number of airports accepting international flights to seven, adding Naha Airport in southern Okinawa Prefecture and New Chitose Airport near Sapporo in northern Hokkaido.
For most of the pandemic, Japan has banned all tourists and only allowed in foreign nationals and residents, although these tourists have been periodically banned.
All arrivals are required to test negative for Covid before traveling to Japan and many must be tested again upon arrival, although triple-vaccinated people coming from certain countries can skip the additional testing as well as the three-day quarantine required for others.
Tour groups are expected to have a responsibility to ensure that visitors respect near-universal mask-wearing and other measures that have helped keep the COVID toll relatively low.
It’s unclear how many people will be able to take advantage of the careful reopening as Japan plans to double the daily entry cap, but only to 20,000.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he wants to ease border control measures, but the moves are expected to proceed slowly, with strong public support for the current restrictions.
Japan welcomed a record 31.9 million foreign visitors in 2019, and was on track to meet its target of 40 million in 2020 before the pandemic spread.
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