Sorry weebs, looks like your dream trip to Japan has been delayed yet again!
Despite everyone wanting to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, the virus will continue to rear its ugly head. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan will ban entry of all foreign visitors in an attempt to fight the new Omicron variant.
The ban is going to take effect starting Tuesday, November 30. And in the same breath, Prime Minister Kishida urged people to continue wearing face masks and other measures as more is learned about the variant.
The New December 2021 Ban
Prime Minister Kishida said that the restrictions are going to be temporary until medical experts better understand the Omicron variant and just how serious it is. The government is also going to be stricter towards Japanese nationals returning home from countries that have been confirmed to have this variant.
Japan will ban entry of all foreigners from midnight November 30
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) November 29, 2021
They won’t be banned from entering, but people coming in will be placed at designated facilities for 14 days as soon as they arrive to make sure everything’s okay and they aren’t infected. Although not everything is known about the Omicron variant, the data so far suggests that it may be more infectious.
Summer State of Emergency
Measures are being taken to prevent a worst-case scenario, said Kishida. Japan spent a large portion of 2021 under a state of emergency to deal with rising COVID cases, most notably right after the Tokyo Olympics.
In the aftermath of the Olympics, 21 prefectures were affected which placed business restrictions in specific areas. Japan was having a hard time dealing with the surge as hospitals were running out of supplies and resorted to turning away people with mild symptoms.
Earlier this month, Japan just eased the restrictions it had on short-term business visitors, foreign students, and technical trainees, only to return to those same measures.
Japan, for the most part, has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic pretty well. Among the G7 nations, Japan has had the least amount of total deaths with a little over 17,000 to date. The country ranks number five in the world in terms of the number of vaccines dispensed.
To date, Japan has given out over 158 million vaccinations and has 90 percent of its elderly population fully vaccinated. Despite the stumble it took at the end of summer, the country has done well to weather the pandemic.
For those who don’t know, the Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa where a doctor there noticed that some of the infected patients had really mild symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant seems to be more mild compared to the Delta, but it still needs to be taken seriously.
Health organizations are going to be working around the clock to figure out how dangerous this variant is. They still recommend continuing following COVID measures like taking the vaccine, wearing the facemask, and maintaining social distancing.
Hopefully, good news comes out of this and Japan reopens asap.