Japan plans to ease its coronavirus travel restrictions by letting in up to around 250 business travelers per day from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam, government sources said Thursday.
The quota, which authorities aim to introduce this summer, will initially apply to businesspeople such as executives and engineers, the sources said, adding that the government task force on the virus response is expected to finalize the details of the plan soon.
The nation currently has an entry ban in place for 111 countries and regions, with foreign travelers who have been to any of those areas within the last two weeks being turned away.
The government is also considering setting up stations to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on people leaving Japan, as some countries have begun opening their borders to those that can provide negative results showing they are not infected, the sources said.
According to the Foreign Ministry, 181 countries and regions have imposed travel restrictions of some kind on Japan, including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.
The easing of travel restrictions is expected to be mutual, and discussions are being held with the countries on how to do so without risking the spread of COVID-19.
Details such as how many from each country will be let in, and how freely they will be allowed to move once at their destination, are still being worked out.
Japan chose the four countries for the plan because they have the outbreak under control and due to their strong economic ties with Japan, the sources said.
Depending on the situation, the government will expand the list later to other countries, including China, South Korea and the United States, they said.