As Japan is considering ways to safely ease travel restrictions over the new coronavirus, travelers to and from the country will be required to undergo testing for COVID-19 and submit a trip itinerary, government sources said Friday.
Japan is already in talks with Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand to mutually reopen borders, with businesspeople and professionals such as medical staff expected to be fast-tracked.
Under the plan, travelers leaving Japan will first have to get a negative result in a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test, which they will then submit to the embassy of the country they plan to visit.
During the first two weeks of their trip, travelers will also be required to stay at a hotel and there will be restrictions on their movements except for commuting to work and a ban on using public transport.
The two weeks will likely be counted from when a negative virus test result is confirmed, the sources said, though alternatively it may be from the date of arrival.
Japan currently has an entry ban in place for 111 countries and regions and is urging its citizens to avoid all nonessential trips abroad. Both inbound and outbound traffic fell more than 99 percent in April from a year earlier, dealing a heavy blow to the world's third-largest economy.
Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand are prime candidates to ease travel restrictions because they all have the coronavirus under control and have deep economic ties with Japan.
In a phone call on Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Australian counterpart Marise Payne agreed to proceed with discussions on resuming travel by the "necessary personnel," according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
One of the sources said the travel restrictions would be lifted in stages, with businesspeople to be given priority, students and agricultural workers coming next, and tourists last.