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Japan to classify countries in 3 groups for eased COVID border controls this summer

In this Nov. 30, 2021 file photo, arriving passengers sit and wait for their turns during the coronavirus quarantine process at Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo. (Mainichi/Masahiro Ogawa)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government has decided to ease coronavirus border control measures as early as this summer by classifying overseas countries and regions into three groups based on positive COVID-19 test result rates at airports.

    The government plans to raise the cap on arrivals from the current 10,000 people daily to 20,000 on June 1. But it intends to keep the current quarantine system for now and to introduce the new category scheme this summer at the earliest. The announcement will be made on May 20 or later.

    Currently, all arriving travelers including Japanese citizens must submit negative PCR or other test certificates obtained within 72 hours before departure, and take quantitative antigen tests at the Japanese airport where they touch down.

    Under the grouping system, Japan will exempt people from countries and territories with the lowest positive COVID-19 results from testing, regardless of vaccination status.

    For travelers from the group with the second lowest positive rates, Japan will not require testing and isolation if they have been triple-inoculated with government-designated coronavirus vaccines. People arriving from the areas with the highest positive rates will need to go through the current procedure, including COVID-19 tests and post-arrival isolation.

    Though the maximum number of daily arrivals was raised from 7,000 to 10,000 on April 10, there have been calls from Japan's business community for a higher cap.

    (Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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