The Japanese government will further extend its entry ban on foreign visitors until February-end, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Tuesday.
“The infection situations regarding Omicron are clearly different at home from abroad, so the framework (of the current border controls) will be maintained until the end of February,” Kishida told reporters.
Japan was of the three nations in the world to close its borders to all countries following the discovery of the new highly contagious Omicron variant in November.
As of today, all foreign citizens are barred from entering Japan. The restriction includes students and foreign family members of nationals and rightful residents.
Protests demanding a reform have arisen in response to the ban. Local media reported on Tuesday that the government was considering loosening some of the requirements in extraordinary circumstances. But, no further information has been disclosed yet.
The current ban has been in effect since November 30, when the government confirmed the first incidence of the highly transmissible Omicron strain on its territory.
The measures were meant to last roughly a month while health experts gathered enough data for the government to determine how to proceed in the middle of the new COVID-19 scenario.
But with some of the oldest population in the world, Japan is taking no chances. In the past, enforcing strict lockdowns helped to keep the virus under control, thus, the government has no reason to believe this time around it will be different.
“Thanks to the toughest border rules in the G7 nations, we’ve been able to keep the spread of Omicron to a minimal level, giving us time to prepare to deal with domestic infection,” Kishida told reporters.
Japan has also banned legal residents who have been to one of the 11 red-listed African nations within the previous 14 days.
The country is considering lifting this restriction out of “humanitarian considerations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press briefing.
As of today, Entry to Japan is currently restricted to citizens and permanent residents, although even they must undergo rigorous testing and quarantine.
Japan has also limited arrivals to 3,500 per day.