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Coronavirus

Japan lowers travel warnings for U.S., Thailand, 100 other nations

Many places had been on higher alert level since start of coronavirus pandemic

A traveler at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The Japanese government eased travel advisories for 106 nations and territories on Friday, with the vast majority happening for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cut the number of destinations designated with a Level 3 warning to 56 from 162. Level 3, the second-highest alert on a four-tiered scale, strongly advises against travel to locations. Countries remaining on Level 3 are mostly in the Middle East or Africa.

Meanwhile, 106 nations and regions have been moved to a Level 2 warning, which advises against nonessential travel. More than 100 of these destinations had remained on Level 3 for the past two years.

The changes apply to the U.S. and the U.K., which were first assigned the Level 3 warning in March 2020. Now Tokyo is easing advisories mainly for places where Japan has built deep business relationships, including India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The foreign ministry cited a decreasing trend in global infections and death from COVID-19 as the reason for the change. The ministry said it is basing decisions on a country's vaccinations rate and health care infrastructure.

Japan had already lowered travel warnings for China, South Korea, Singapore and Australia to Level 2.

"The infection risk information is not legally binding, but a number of corporations and universities reference the information before making travel decisions," Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters on Friday. "I intend to gather information and provide appropriate alerts."

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