The Japanese government is considering easing its entry ban on several countries with low Covid-19 infection rates — and New Zealand has reportedly made the cut.
According to a government source, Japan is planning to allow business visitors from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand into its country following border closures prompted by the pandemic, Bangkok Post reports.
Since February, Japan has imposed entry bans on 111 countries and regions, including the United States, most of Asia and all of Europe — which is currently in effect until the end of June.
The country is reportedly planning to ease restrictions around its summer, (our winter) and negotiate conditions with the four countries.
Japan is considering allowing entry of foreigners from countries who have certification for testing negative for the virus, according to the source.
Once permitted into the country, visitors' movements would be restricted to areas including place of stay, company offices and factories, the newspaper said, adding that use of public transportation would be banned, the Asahi Shimbun reports.
Japan has had a total of around 17,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with almost 900 deaths. It currently has 1425 active cases.
The government source's announcement comes after the Japanese government launched a campaign that will help offset travel costs for visiting tourists.
According to The Japan Times, Hiroshi Tabata, the head of the Japan Tourism Agency, said the $19.51 billion plan hopes to attract foreigners by offering to subsidise half of their travel expenses.
While little detail of the programme has been announced, the government says it could be in place as early as July.
Even though New Zealand may downgrade to alert level 1 as early as next week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed earlier today that border restrictions would not be lifted.
"Level 1 potentially means we keep our border restrictions, but life feels very, very normal otherwise," she said.
This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.