Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday Japan will extend its tight entry rules until at least early next year to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The government initially said the rules, banning new entries by foreigners worldwide and requiring returning Japanese nationals and foreign residents to quarantine in government-designated facilities, would be in place for about a month to year-end.

An international terminal is deserted at Haneda airport near Tokyo on Nov. 30, 2021, as Japan banned new entries by foreigners globally for at least one month to stave off the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Kishida told reporters that the government will continue with the rules until more details of the Omicron variant are known. "We will study the situation after the year-end and New Year (holiday)."

On Friday, Kishida announced the plan to expedite third doses of coronavirus vaccines by shortening the current eight-month interval between the second jab and a booster.

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