TOKYO, June 23 (Xinhua) -- A limited number of flights from Japan to Vietnam will resume this week as the country begins to ease travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday.
He told a press briefing that three chartered flights arranged by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam and operated by Vietnam Airlines will depart from Narita airport from Thursday through Saturday.
The three flights will be carrying around 440 business people and land at northern Vietnam's Van Don International Airport. The passengers will have to follow strict virus prevention measures, said Motegi.
It remains to be seen when Vietnam will decide to reciprocate by allowing flights bound to Japan.
On June 11, the Japanese government said it was planning to ease its coronavirus-linked travel restrictions this summer by allowing, at first, the entry of up to 250 business people per day from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.
Japan currently has an entry ban in place from 111 countries and regions, and foreign travelers who have visited countries on the banned list within two weeks would be refused entry, the foreign ministry has said.
The ministry also said that 177 countries and regions have imposed varying levels of restrictions on entry from Japan.
Australia and New Zealand have reportedly said it may still be too early to allow entry of Japanese travelers amid continued concerns over the possible spread of the coronavirus.
Travelers from the permitted overseas countries would have to undergo PCR coronavirus tests before arriving in Japan to prove they are negative for COVID-19.
Upon landing in Japan they will be required to take another PCR test, sources with knowledge of the matter have said.
Those qualifying for entry will be required to submit to officials details of their place of residence during their visit as well as an itinerary of places they intend to visit, the sources said.
They may be asked to refrain from using public transport and possibly be required to use a GPS app on their smartphones so in the case they are or do become infected, contact-tracing can be carried out.
Aside from Vietnam, Japan has also been in talks with Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as the potential first batch of travelers it reopens its doors to, although the government would like the measure to be reciprocal.
The four countries were picked owing to the fact that they have been judged to have successfully brought the COVID-19 outbreak under control in their respective countries and owing to business ties between Japan and the countries.
The Japanese government said that following its initial easing of entry restrictions for the four countries, it will look to further expand the easing of restrictions applicable to China, South Korea and the United States.
To inspire more confidence in Japan having overcome the worst of the pandemic, the government is planning to set up PCR testing centers so those planning to travel overseas can meet the requirements of foreign countries requiring negative test results from Japanese travelers prior to their departure. Enditem