Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

In November, Tokyo banned new entry by non-Japanese, including students and family members, in response to Omicron.

Japan will maintain its strict access restrictions it has put in place to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus until the end of February, its prime minister said on Tuesday, although some exceptions could be considered for humanitarian issues.

The country adopted some of the strictest border controls in the world when the Omicron variant emerged late last year, banning all new entry by non-Japanese, including students and foreign relatives of Japanese or permanent residents, except in exceptional circumstances.

The rules, which in some cases, kept families apart, led to protests and a petition calling for change, and media reports said Tuesday the government is considering easing some of the rules in exceptional cases.

“Thanks to the strictest border rules in the G7 countries, we have been able to keep the spread of Omicron to a minimum, giving us time to prepare to deal with domestic infection,” Kishida told reporters.

“We will maintain the current framework of measures for the time being until the end of February, while taking the necessary measures from the perspective of humanitarian and national interests.”

Kishida added that although much is unknown about Omicron, it appears that the risk of serious cases is lower. Still, he said the country would start vaccinating children under the age of 12 for the coronavirus.

Access to Japan is currently restricted to citizens and permanent residents, but even they face strict test and quarantine rules.

Stricter measures

A resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country to levels not seen since September prompted the government to impose emergency restrictions over the weekend in three parts of the country that house U.S. military bases.

The U.S. agreed over the weekend to impose stricter COVID-19 measures at U.S. military bases in Japan, amid concerns that outbreaks at bases have fueled local communities. The U.S. military has moved personnel in and out under a separate test and quarantine regime.

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