Japan has closed its borders to all international travelers regardless of their country of departure in an attempt to mitigate the further spread of the Omicron variant, said Prime Minister on Tuesday.
“We will ban the (new) entry of foreigners from around the world starting from November 30,” said the minister.
With this decision, Japan joins Israel and Morocco as the third country in the world to implement a full border closure in reaction to the newest COVID-19 variant.
“This is a preventive, emergency measure to avoid a worst-case scenario,” said the minister. “This is an extraordinary measure for the time being just until we know more about the omicron variant.”
Under the new restrictions, all returning nationals and residents will be subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated, Kyodo News reported.
Japan has closed its borders to most foreign tourists for most of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid the spread of the Delta and Delta Plus variants, the country did not want to open even for this year’s Olympic Games.
According to Nikkei Asia news, about 370,000 foreigners, including 150,000 students who had been permitted to enter Japan in 2020, have been unable to do so.
Japan had finally decided to ease entry restrictions from Nov. 26. On that date, the country increased the cap on daily arrivals from 3,500 to 5,000 as COVID-19 cases were under control.
And then, the pandemic struck again and Japan has been forced to go back to square one.
“If the situation worsens, for instance, due to the spread of new viral mutations, we will need to take a flexible approach,” the minister would say last week.
“We will continue to examine how we can further ease the restrictions, taking into account the infection situation and the vaccination rollouts in Japan and abroad.”
So far, Japan has fully vaccinated nearly 80 percent of its population.