Japanese officials said on Friday that they would reduce the length of quarantine for vaccinated business travelers from 10 days to three, reflecting the incredible turnaround in the country’s control over the coronavirus.
Travelers with vaccination documents recognized by Japanese health officials “will be allowed to go out for their necessary businesses or training, or use public transportation” after quarantining for three days with a negative test for the virus, Seiji Kihara, Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary, said.
He added: “We will examine the situation if we can allow group tourists to visit again, aiming at by the end of the year.”
Japan has virtually closed its borders since the start of the pandemic, and the easing of rules comes as cases decline significantly. While new daily cases rarely went below 10,000 a day in August, peaking at 25,851 on Aug. 20, they have steadily declined to below 310 in the past week, according to data provided by the Health Ministry.
The change, which will take effect on Monday, will be part of a broader easing of travel rules in Japan, the world’s third-largest economy. Japan will also start letting in international students and issue long-term visas to business travelers, Mr. Kihara said.
But Japan’s border restrictions remain some of the strictest in the region despite about 73 percent of the country’s population having been fully vaccinated, according to data from the University of Oxford.
So far, only visitors with visas have been able to enter, and they needed to quarantine for 14 days. The authorities shortened that period to 10 days in October for those with full doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. Recipients of Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and unvaccinated travelers, have been stuck with the 14 days.