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Coronavirus

Japan to ease entry for foreign business travelers on 3-day stays

No-quarantine rule seen targeting Thais, Taiwanese, Australians and New Zealanders

An arrival gate at Haneda Airport in Tokyo: Japan is working on a program that would allow short-term business travelers from certain Asia-Pacific territories quarantine-free entry.

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will allow business travelers who plan to stay no more than 72 hours to enter the country without quarantining, Nikkei has learned, as it eases up on COVID-19 restrictions in an effort to revive the economy.

The quarantine-free entry procedure could begin next month.

The required 14 days of self-isolation for business travelers will be waived for those who carry negative certification and submit an itinerary for their stay.

Target embarkation points to be included in the program are still being considered, but the main partner territories are Asia-Pacific regions such as Thailand, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

The government will ask the short-term business travelers accepted into the program not to use public transportation and to restrict their movements to limited areas, such as their workplaces and hotels.

Japan has negotiated with 16 countries and regions to take part in a wider framework targeting business travelers staying in the country for up to 90 days; Japanese business travelers going to these other countries would also be exempted from quarantine measures.

As of now, Singapore and South Korea are the only countries using this framework. Vietnam is expected to join soon. In addition, Japan is aiming to reach an agreement with China.

Japanese companies traditionally do a lot of business with partners in India and the U.S., but the virus is far from contained in those countries, and the Japanese government intends to carefully monitor those nations' infection rates before deciding whether to include them in the program.

Japan has gradually eased entry restrictions put in place in the early weeks of the pandemic. In September, it began allowing foreign nationals with medium or long-term residential status to reenter the country. This month, it extended the measure to new foreign residents.

The government will also ease restrictions on Japanese nationals returning from overseas, exempting those who return from an overseas business trip from having to quarantine for 14 days.

Japanese airports, meanwhile, are increasing their testing capacities. Japan's three major airports -- Narita International Airport, near Tokyo; Haneda Airport, in Tokyo; and Kansai International Airport, in Osaka -- in September could conduct a combined 10,000 tests per day.

The number is to double by the end of November as airports in Hokkaido, Aichi Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture increase their testing capacity.

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