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Travel & Leisure

Japan to let in 250 business travelers a day under close watch

Government seeks to minimize risk through testing and contact tracing

Japan plans to closely monitor business travelers from select countries with low coronavirus infection rates. 

TOKYO -- Japan will as early as this summer allow up to 250 business travelers a day into the country from nations with low coronavirus infection rates, while urging visitors to use a smartphone app to facilitate contact tracing.

The government envisions accepting about 80 travelers from Vietnam, 60 from Thailand, 50 from Australia and 10 from New Zealand, plus 50 Japanese nationals returning from these countries, with the overall cap to be raised as testing capacity expands. Total visitors from the four nations averaged nearly 6,000 per day in 2018, with Thailand accounting for more than half.

Talks with these countries on easing immigration restrictions are underway.

The plan comes amid a broad relaxation of travel curbs in the region, with a particular focus on business, as case counts decline.

Incoming visitors will be asked to use a smartphone app that alerts users if they may have come in contact with a confirmed coronavirus carrier, and to report any such notifications to authorities. Travelers will also be told to keep location tracking active on their phones for two weeks after entering the country.

The government plans to have companies confirm in writing their responsibility for business travelers they accept, to nudge businesses to encourage workers to use the tracing app.

Japanese visitors to these countries will likely be subject to similar conditions, as immigration rules are typically reciprocal. The government may set up coronavirus testing centers specifically for people entering and leaving the country if travel picks up.

In 2018, visitors from Vietnam, including vacationers, totaled 1,066 per day, 3,102 from Thailand, 1,514 from Australia and 201 from New Zealand.

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