Foreign tourists visiting Japan will be required to wear masks, purchase private medical insurance and be accompanied throughout their stay, the government said on Tuesday, as it plans to reopen after two years of COVID-19 restrictions gradually.
During the first phase of reopening on June 10, only tourists in tour groups will be allowed in, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) said, adding that guides accompanying tourists must ensure masks are worn.
“Tour guides should frequently remind travel participants of necessary infection prevention measures, including putting on and taking off masks at every stage of travel,” the Japan Tourism Board said in its guidelines.
During the pandemic, Japan imposed some of the strictest border controls globally, barring nearly all non-residents from entering the country.
Japan is also loosening its rules as much of the world opens up from the COVID-19 lockdown. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to bring border measures in line with other wealthy nations.
Despite the ubiquity of masks, the government has recently begun to ease mask guidance for the public. Before the coronavirus pandemic, wearing masks to prevent the spread of germs and ward off pollen was common in Japan.
Japan last month conducted “test trips” in groups of about 50 people, most of them travel agencies, but one of the participants tested positive for the coronavirus. In 2019, Japan received 31.9 million foreign tourists who spent 4.81 trillion yen ($36.28 billion).