TOKYO: Japan will from Wednesday (Mar 1) ease its COVID-19 restrictions on travellers from China, dropping a requirement that everyone take a test for the virus upon arrival, its top government spokesperson said.
Instead of blanket testing of travellers from China, Japan will only test selected samples, although travellers will still need to show a negative test before boarding their flights to Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference on Monday.
The changes were intended to “support smooth international travels, given a low rate of positive test results among entrants”, Matsuno said.
Airlines will also be allowed to operate direct flights from China to more Japanese airports, Matsuno said. For now, direct flights from China can only land at the Narita, Haneda, Kansai and Chubu airports.
Passengers from Hong Kong and Macau will be exempt from any on-arrival testing or pre-boarding negative test requirements, broadcaster TBS reported earlier on Monday, citing government sources.
Japan and South Korea imposed stricter border control on travellers from China after COVID-19 cases surged there when it lifted its strict zero-COVID policy late last year.
China retaliated by suspending the issuing of short-term visas in South Korea and Japan.
South Korea eased its border controls on visitors from China early this month, which China welcomed.