Japan to bar new foreign arrivals over new COVID variant Omicron

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 29 2021 01:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 29 2021 01:09 PM

Japan will reinstate tough border measures, barring all new foreign arrivals over the Omicron COVID variant, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Monday, just weeks after a softening of strict entry rules.

"We will ban the (new) entry of foreigners from around the world starting from November 30th," Kishida told reporters.

Japan's borders have been almost entirely shut to new overseas visitors for most of the pandemic, with even foreign residents at one point unable to enter the country.

In early November, the government announced it would finally allow some short-term business travellers, foreign students and other visa holders to enter the country, while continuing to bar tourists.

Japan had already announced it would require travellers permitted to enter Japan from nine southern African countries to quarantine in government-designated facilities for 10 days on arrival.

That measure affects travellers coming from South Africa and neighbouring Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. 

Kishida said Monday that further quarantine restrictions would be imposed on arrivals from an additional 14 countries where the variant has been detected, without giving further details.

Japan has recorded just over 18,300 coronavirus deaths during the pandemic, while avoiding tough lockdowns. After a slow start, the country's vaccination programme picked up speed, with 76.5 percent of the population now fully inoculated.

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