Japan will ease travel restrictions imposed to keep the novel coronavirus pandemic in check, starting with flights to Vietnam on a limited basis later this month, government sources said Monday.
A chartered flight is being arranged to fly around 250 Japanese businesspeople, the sources said, adding they will be exempt from quarantine upon arrival in Vietnam and when they return to Japan on condition that they test negative for the coronavirus.
The plan comes as Japan is in talks to resume travel with Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, where the coronavirus is under control and there is a relatively low risk of importing infections.
Vietnam has not allowed entry or issued visas to foreign nationals since late March, with some exceptions including for diplomats.
Japan added Vietnam to its entry ban list in late April and the Japanese Foreign Ministry has issued a Level 3 travel advisory for the country urging nationals to avoid going there. Both countries mandate two-week quarantine periods for all arrivals.
But under the new scheme, travelers between the countries will be exempt from these restrictions if they take polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests prior to departure and upon arrival, and test negative both times, the sources said. They will also have to submit itineraries detailing the hotels they are staying at and places they intend to visit.
Businesspeople such as executives will be given priority, with students and then tourists set to follow.
Other countries on Japan's entry ban list, including China, South Korea and the United States, may be taken off later depending on the situation, the sources said.