After over two years of stringent COVID-19 border control measures, Japan has lifted all border controls for international arrivals before the annual Golden Week holiday. The government brought forward the decision in anticipation of an influx of travelers during the holiday season.

Japan opens its borders before Golden Week holiday

The Japanese government initially planned to end border control measures on May 8, but it has now decided to end them earlier. All international arrivals no longer require vaccination certification or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. The coronavirus’ legal status will be downgraded to the same threat level as common infectious diseases like seasonal influenza.

Japan’s coronavirus border policy began in February 2020 as a ban on foreign nationals with a history of travel to China’s Hubei Province. This policy was later extended to a blanket ban on new entries from anywhere in the world, with some rules relaxed later on. However, a ban on new foreign entries was reinstated in late 2021 due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Government no longer requires vaccination certification or negative coronavirus test

In 2022, the Japanese government gradually increased daily entry quotas, culminating in a full reopening to tourists in October. As for its approach to China, the government no longer requires visitors from the mainland to submit to random testing at airports. Instead, random testing is conducted, which replaced the blanket COVID-19 testing that ended in March.

On May 8, Japan will launch a new genomic surveillance program at Haneda, Narita, and three other major airports. Under the program, entrants with symptoms like fever are asked to undergo a voluntary test to detect new infectious diseases.

The lifting of border control measures comes as a huge relief to travelers and the tourism industry. As the world continues to battle COVID-19, Japan’s bold decision is a positive step towards resuming normal life. Sayonara COVID, Japan has made its stand!