Japan will suspend the entry of all nonresident foreign nationals into the country as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.
The government last month halted new entries worldwide, except business travelers and students from Taiwan and 10 Asian countries -- Brunei, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam -- had been exempt.
The special treatment will be halted until Feb. 7, the last day of an ongoing state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area and some other parts of Japan, Suga said at a press conference.
For the suspension, Suga said, "We will swiftly complete arrangements" with the 10 countries and Taiwan, adding that he "took seriously growing anxieties among the Japanese people."
For Japanese and resident foreigners who are allowed to enter, Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the country's coronavirus response, said it will require them to sign a pledge upon arrival to stay in quarantine for 14 days, and violating it would result in penalties, such as disclosing the names of violators.
In addition, foreign residents who breach the 14-day quarantine rule will have their resident status revoked and be subject to deportation, Nishimura said at a separate press conference.
He said the new measures will be taken from Thursday because of a recent case where a man who returned from Britain dined with multiple people during his 14-day self-isolation period and caused the spread of a new strain of the virus.
Suga announced the entry suspension involving the 10 countries and Taiwan shortly after he declared a state of emergency in Osaka, Aichi and five other prefectures.
Just days earlier, he said during a TV interview that Japan would continue allowing the entries as long as new coronavirus variants, feared to be more infectious, were not detected within their populations.
But lawmakers within his Liberal Democratic Party had pushed for the exemption to be suspended, arguing it was contradictory to ask Japanese people to stay home under the state of emergency while allowing nonresident foreign nationals into the country.