TOKYO–Japan will bar newly entering foreigners such as business travelers from entering the country starting Tuesday, in response to the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Japanese citizens and foreign residents of Japan who are returning from trips abroad will still be allowed to enter the country, the government said Monday.
Those returning from nine countries in southern Africa and 14 other countries and regions where Omicron cases were confirmed will face a strict quarantine upon arrival, it said.
“This is an emergency, preventive measure in order to avoid the worst situation,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. He said the steps were temporary until the risks of the Omicron variant became clear.
The decision comes only a few weeks after the country cautiously reopened its border to business travelers, foreign workers and students, responding to calls from companies that feared falling behind the West.
On Friday, even before the World Health Organization’s announcement classifying Omicron as a variant of concern, the Japanese government said that all travelers arriving in Japan from six countries including South Africa would need to spend 10 days in a government-designated hotel or other lodging facility and undergo testing every few days. Three more countries were later added to the list.
Japan has had relatively few Covid-19 cases recently after a spike over the summer. For the past few weeks, there have been fewer than two hundred cases a day, the lowest level in more than a year. Nearly 80% of the population is fully vaccinated.
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