Japan and Singapore Agree to Relax COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

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Japan and Singapore have come to an agreement to start relaxing the current travel restrictions between the 2 countries, starting in September.

Like many states around the world, both Japan and Singapore tightened their borders in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

At present, travelers arriving from over 100 different countries, including Singapore, are banned from entering Japan, with very few exceptions.

Singapore also has a travel ban in place, with travelers requiring a long-term Singaporean visa and an approval letter issued by a government body in order to be granted entry to the country.

Following talks between Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, travel between the 2 nations will become possible again in September, subject to certain conditions.

This comes as one of several moves by the Japanese government to restart international travel for certain groups of people, including holders of a Japan visa.

How Does the Agreement Affect Travel Restrictions for Japan and Singapore?

After imposing travel restrictions in April and March respectively, Japan and Singapore are now looking towards easing their entry bans and restarting international travel little by little.

The new agreement will allow passengers who meet certain criteria to travel from Japan to Singapore and vice versa starting in September. The following groups will be able to fly from one country to the other under this new policy:

  • Business travelers on short-term trips
  • Expatriates
  • Long-term residents

The foreign ministers of both countries appear to be in the final stages of planning the new arrangement. Following the meeting with Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters: “We will just need to confirm small details before the resumption of reciprocal visits.”

What Are the Conditions for Traveling to Japan from Singapore?

Ex-pats and long-term residents returning to Japan will be required to self-isolate either at home or at a designated hotel for a minimum period of 14 days after arrival. This is a precaution against accidentally transmitting coronavirus.

However, people traveling to Japan on business will be exempt from this quarantine requirement.

All travelers arriving in Japan from Singapore must use the Line messaging app to update the authorities about the state of their health for 14 days after arrival.

It is also an obligation to install the contact tracing app mandated by the country’s health ministry and to agree to retain the GPS data for 2 weeks.

What Are the Conditions for Traveling to Singapore from Japan?

As is the case in Japan, expatriates and long-term residents arriving in Singapore must undergo 14 days of quarantine either at home or at an authorized location, such as a specially designated hotel. This measure is designed to prevent travelers with an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 from accidentally passing the virus on to others.

In Singapore, business visitors can avoid a total quarantine by submitting an itinerary for their trip, avoiding public transportation and crowds of people, and limiting themselves to their accommodation and workplace.

This partial self-isolation will enable travelers to conduct their business, while limiting the chances of accidentally transmitting coronavirus.

Japan to Ease Other Travel Restrictions

Singapore is not the only country that Japan has been in talks with. Similar agreements have already been made with Vietnam and Thailand to permit business travel between these countries and Japan.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, negotiations are also underway with the following countries:

  • Australia
  • People’s Republic of China
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

Motegi is the first member of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet to travel abroad since March, when the World Health Organization (WHO) first declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In addition to Singapore, he has visited the United Kingdom, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea.

Re-entry for Japanese Visa Holders

Japan is also planning to permit foreigners with visas to re-enter the country if they leave, starting from September, according to national broadcasting network NHK.

Since the travel ban was implemented in April, foreign nationals living, working, and/or studying in Japan were permitted to leave the country, but would not be allowed to return, regardless of their Japanese visa status.

This situation has meant that most of these permanent residents, temporary workers, and exchange students have either remained in Japan or have been effectively locked out, unable to return home.

Starting in September, this restriction will be eased and those with valid visas for Japan will be permitted to re-enter the island country.

As the COVID-19 situation progresses, it is expected that travel restrictions around the world will continue to ease, including for both Japan and Singapore. If you are planning to travel abroad, it is recommended to keep up to date with current regulations for entering different countries and follow updates on global visa requirements.

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