Tuesday 6 October 2020

Japan Prepares To Reopen Its Borders In Time For The Olympics

 Travel has become a bit of a hassle with the coronavirus pandemic. Well, probably not too much of a bother for those with an unending thirst for adventure and excitement, but still an uncertain experience regardless of mind frame.

However, some countries have begun reopening their borders—whether it’s a partial opening to certain countries or to an extended list of them with particular limitations. Among them is Japan, the country with some of the lowest cases of COVID per capita and some of the lowest death counts to date.

Despite COVID, countries are easing up on travel restrictions with Japan making a move after 6+ months

Image credits: すしぱく

It has been a bit over 6 months since Japan closed its borders to tourists due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. And like many countries, it has experienced a significant blow when it comes to tourism—especially in light of the postponed Tokyo Olympic games—but the closing has made sure cases stay relatively low and the health system doesn’t crash and burn.

But the Olympics are still fast approaching, with the date set for July 23, 2021 and the VP of the International Olympics Committee John Coates firmly stating that the Olympic Games will happen “with or without COVID.”

Though this statement is by no means an official government decree, the Japanese government has, however, started the process of opening up its borders to international travelers, not only in preparation for the Olympics, but also because the world is getting ever better at managing the pandemic and, of course, the economy.

Japan is currently setting up measures on opening its borders to international tourism in April 2021

Image credits: すしぱく

The Japanese government has stated that it is working on the process of reopening its borders to the broader world. It is said that they will be doing a comprehensive investigation on how and when to do so. The plan is to set up countermeasures for tourists by January 2021 and to lift the ban on foreign tourists starting April 2021. This, however, will be done carefully, on a trial basis.

Compared to the rest of the world, Japan is doing very well in managing the pandemic. As of this day, it has a bit over 86,000 cases of COVID-19 with over 1,600 deaths, leading to just 683 cases per one million people. In context, the US, the #1 country in the world for total cases with over 1 million deaths, has a count of 4,563 cases per million.

It is said that Japan is doing so well with the pandemic for a number of reasons: they identified the main factors to avoid being enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places with many people, and close contact settings; they called for lockdown several weeks earlier than some of the countries that are now suffering high death counts; and the social culture in Japan is simply not as COVID-friendly with fewer hugs and kisses for greetings, and the people tend to follow rules honestly.

Besides the need to revive the economy, Japan is setting up safety measures in light of the Tokyo Olympics

Image credits: すしぱく

The safety measures according to this new plan will effectively track the three main stages of a tourist’s journey—namely their arrival, their stay, and their departure. The government will also make sure there is a health management map available and dedicated fever centers so as to not overburden the current medical institutions.

Before a person arrives in the country, they will need to download the specialized health management app and will have to have a coronavirus-negative test certificate from their country.

If it so happens that the arriving person tests positive for COVID while they’re in the country, private medical insurance will also be obligatory. Though there is no requirement for people with negative tests upon arrival to self-isolate for 14 days after entering Japan, they will, however, be required to report their health status in the app during the first two weeks.

Measures will tackle everything from arrival to departure and will include mandatory negative tests and use of apps

Image credits: 宮崎大輔

These measures will remain throughout and after the Olympics as Japan is aiming to continue reviving international tourism. Until this time, Japanese officials will be working towards making improvements as all of this is still a work in progress.

Japanese officials have recently opened up its borders to internationals who have a permit to stay in the country long-term. For the most part, these include employees of companies and institutions as well as international students. So, lifting the ban on international tourism was the next logical step.

For the most part, people online are happy about this move. They are praising Japan’s approach when it comes to managing the pandemic and some don’t mind the app—it’s for the greater good, after all—but also point out that officials can’t be so naive so as to believe that all tourists will be sensible enough to follow the safety measures and guidelines.

Japan has recently opened its borders to long-term internationals, so tourism is the next logical step

Image credits: すしぱく

What are your thoughts on this? Are you planning on going to Japan any time soon? Let us know in the comment section below!

Here’s how people online reacted to Japan’s plans to open up borders

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