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After two years, Japan will let tourists in, but they will need masks, insurance, and guides

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  The government said on Tuesday that foreign tourists coming to Japan will have to wear masks, get privat...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  The government said on Tuesday that foreign tourists coming to Japan will have to wear masks, get private medical insurance, and be accompanied by a chaperone the whole time. This is part of a plan to slowly open up after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

During the first phase of reopening, which starts on June 10, only visitors on package tours will be allowed in, according to the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA). Travel agency guides who go with visitors will have to make sure they wear their masks.

"At each step of the tour, tour guides should remind tour participants of necessary steps to prevent infection, such as wearing and taking off masks," the JTA said in its guidelines.

"People should still wear masks when they are close to each other and talking even when they are outside."

During the pandemic, Japan has put in place some of the strictest border controls in the world. Almost all non-residents are not allowed to enter the country.

As COVID lockdowns are lifted in most of the rest of the world, Japan is also loosening its rules. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has promised to make Japan's border rules the same as those in other rich countries.

The government has recently started to loosen rules about masks for the general public, even though masks are everywhere. Before the coronavirus pandemic, people in Japan often wore masks to stop the spread of germs and keep pollen away.

Last month, Japan took groups of about 50 people on "test tours." Most of the people on the tours were travel agents, but one of them tested positive for COVID.

James Jang, a travel agent from Australia who went on one of the test tours, said that the rules would probably put some people off for now.

"Clients won't mind wearing a mask inside, but it's annoying to have to wear one all the time," Jang told Reuters.

"The cost of always having a guide may put people off until later, when they have more freedom."

In 2019, Japan had 31.9 million foreign visitors who spent a total of $46.28 billion, or 4.81 trillion yen.

($1 = 132.5700 yen)


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