Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on October 8.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Japan, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Japan was initially lauded for containing the virus during the first wave but has since seen several surges in cases.
On September 22, Japan's health ministry agreed to loosen entry restrictions for visitors to the country who can show proof of being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Travelers will have to show proof of getting the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, as they are currently the only ones accepted in Japan.
Eligible travelers will no longer have to endure a 14-day quarantine -- instead, they can do 10. At the end of the 10-day period, they must take a PCR test. If that test comes back negative, the person is then able to move about freely.
The world artistic and rhythm gymnastics competitions will be held in Kitakyushu in October 2021 -- and this time, unlike the Olympics, with spectators.
What's on offer
A heady mix of the cutting edge and deeply traditional, Japan remains a major draw for travelers from all over the globe. Whether participating in a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, scouring Tokyo's Akihabara district for tech bargains or soaking in a hot onsen in the forests of Tohoku, this is a country that leaves its mark on all who visit.
Who can go
Japan has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world.
Visitors from Australia, Brunei, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam may enter the country, although those traveling from China and South Korea can only arrive into the country via Tokyo Narita airport. Additionally, those traveling for study, work or to join family (subject to visa requirements) may enter.
That said, there are many exceptions and the rules change constantly. The government reserves the right to change these regulations if and when new variants are detected or other countries have spikes.
As of September 19, visitors from the following countries no longer have to spend three days in government quarantine in addition to 10 days of self-isolation: Andorra, Belarus, Cambodia, Fiji, Finland, France, Ireland, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Namibia, the Netherlands, Oman, Thailand, Tunisia, the United States, and Zimbabwe.
Consult MOFA for the latest information.
What are the restrictions?
Those traveling under Japan's revised business travel rules will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, signed and stamped by the laboratory where it was taken. While they will not need to self-isolate, they will need to provide details of their movements for the following two weeks and not use public transport.
Japan will be entirely free of the "state of emergency" or "quasi-state of emergency" designations as of October 1. That is the first time since April that not a single prefecture will be in one of the categories.
Under these states and quasi-states, prefecture governments were allowed to make restrictions about things like crowd sizes and restaurant hours. With those designations lifted, it is possible for venues like bars, malls and cinemas to reopen.
What's the Covid situation?
As of October 8, Japan had reported 1,709,603 confirmed cases of the virus and 17,872 deaths. These numbers don't include any positive cases connected to the Olympics or Paralympics.
The National Institute of Infectious Diseases says that about 70% of the Tokyo-area cases are the Delta variant.
Japan's vaccine rollout began slowly but significantly picked up over the summer. The percentage of the population who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus passed the 50% mark the week of September 6.
As of October 8, 63% of the population has gotten two doses of a vaccine. The government announced it was buying 130 million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to give as booster shots.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato confirmed to local media that his team is exploring options for "vaccine passports." Business travelers would be prioritized for these at first.
What can visitors expect?
While much of Japan remains open for business, cities are far quieter than usual and the government has the right to request the closure of businesses in areas of high transmission. Masks must be worn in public.
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