Japan will resume visa-free entry for individual travelers and scrap its daily entry cap on Oct. 11, effectively ending its tight COVID-19 regulations on foreign tourists after nearly two and a half years.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that Japan would further relax its border measures and remove the daily arrival cap, which is presently set at 50,000, to support the tourism industry, Japan Times reported.
The country will lift the ban on visa-free travel and resume accepting individual travelers from Oct. 11, following Kishida’s goal to implement an entry process similar to that of other Group of Seven (G-7) nations.
Japan is also offering a nationwide travel discount program that will provide up to 11,000 yen ($77) in financial assistance per person for a one-night stay. The discount is valid for theme park admission, sporting events, and concerts.
“I hope many people will utilize it,” Kishida said at a press conference in New York. “I want to support the travel, entertainment, and other industries that have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Currently, Japan only permits package tours from nations classified as having the lowest risk of COVID-19, including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and China.
The government has also waived the requirement to take a COVID test within 72 hours of departure for travelers who have been vaccinated three times.
Kishida previously said that he would consider downgrading the classification of COVID-19 when the situation had stabilized. COVID-19 is currently classified as a “category two” disease in Japan, the second-highest on a five-tier scale of severity of infectious diseases.
Local authorities have urged the government to categorize COVID-19 as a “category four” disease, which would result in the disease being treated more like a seasonal flu-like condition, given that the Omicron variant has a lower severity.