Japan has joined the countless other countries that have imposed severe travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced that starting from March 21, 2020, and until the end of April, travellers from 38 countries (including EU countries) have to self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrival. During this two week period, they are also not allowed to use public transportation in Japan.
Moreover, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced that they would invalidate the visas that have already been issued to the people from one of the affected countries. The measure is also expected to last from March 21, 2020, and at least until the end of April.
These measures affect anyone coming from one of the Schengen Zone countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Ireland, Monaco, Romania, San Marino, and Vatican City.
The Japanese government took even stricter measures for the EU countries with the highest number of coronavirus cases. Anyone who has been in certain regions of Italy, Spain, or Switzerland or in any part of Iceland within 14 days of arriving in Japan will be denied entry.
The regions included on the entry ban are Italy’s Valle d’Aosta, Trentino-Alto Adige, Fruili-Venezia Giulia and Liguria, the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Basel-Stadtand, as well as the Spanish provinces of Madrid and La Rioja, Navarre and the Basque Country.
Although the measures were partially a desperate attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus so that the Olympic Games would be able to go ahead as scheduled, it was announced that the Olympics were ultimately postponed to 2021. The name, however, will still be Tokyo 2020, so that it “could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present” according to PM Abe.
The virus that began in the Wuhan province in mainland China has been declared a pandemic. The epicentre has moved to Europe, with Italy’s coronavirus cases nearly matching those in China, where the situation has now seemingly calmed. As of March 26, there are more than 74,000 reported COVID-19 cases in Italy, out of which 57,500 are active. In comparison, out of the 81,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in China, only a little more than 3,000 are still active.
The spread of COVID-19 has led to severe travel restrictions worldwide, especially toward EU countries. The US banned entry to all EU nationals and all non-essential travel to Europe. The EU’s Schengen Zone has closed its external borders, and some member states have reintroduced border checks.