Health Alert – November 16, 2020

Location: Japan
Date: November 16, 2020

COVID-19 in Japan

The U.S. Embassy and consulates continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions in Japan. Positive test numbers are rising in many areas of Japan, and Japanese authorities are warning of a third wave of infections. Japanese media report that the effective reproduction rate nationwide has been above 1 since mid-October, meaning that the epidemic curve is rising as are hospitalization rates throughout the country. The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationwide was 951 as of November 9, up 20% from two weeks ago.

As we move into the colder months, U.S. citizens are strongly urged to continue to take personal health measures to protect themselves, including socially distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommend that U.S. citizens get flu shots to prevent a major flu outbreak. Finally, U.S. citizens should continue to obey measures introduced by Japanese officials designed to mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks in their areas.

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government raised its COVID-19 alert level to Stage Three on a five-stage scale on November 7. The government identified Sapporo’s Susukino entertainment district as a point of particular concern and asked that residents avoid restaurants that serve alcohol after 10:00 p.m. in the area. It also asked several other kinds of businesses, including host/hostess clubs and bars, to close at 10:00 p.m., and requested others stop serving alcohol at 10:00 p.m.

Okinawa continues to remain at a prefectural warning level 3 due to COVID-19, with recent daily new infections holding steady in the lower double digits. Governor Tamaki continues to urge caution, asking that diners refrain from eating or drinking in parties greater than five for more than two hours, and that companies and families continue to be vigilant with infection prevention measures.

For more COVID-19 information in Okinawa, please review the online information here and here (Japanese with machine translation).

As infection rates continue to rise in Japan, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to monitor changes to prefectural government alert statuses, especially when considering travel across prefectures.

Travel Restrictions

Japanese government travel restrictions remain in place that prevent most U.S. citizens from entering the country. Japan continues to modify its policies to facilitate certain kinds of travel. Recently, the Government of Japan announced new regulations permitting residents of Japan to take short business trips abroad without requiring quarantine upon their return. The rules governing this program are strict, and business travelers should be sure they understand the program before departing the country. For complete information on travel restrictions, as well as requirements for re-entry, please consult the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Justice.

Travel for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change in the near term.

The U.S. Embassy strongly urges any U.S. citizens considering travel to Japan to review carefully the information available from the Government of Japan. Please note these regulations are subject to change with little notice. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to intervene on behalf of travelers denied entry into Japan is extremely limited and travelers denied entry at Japanese ports of entry will likely be immediately reboarded on flights back to the United States.

U.S. military members traveling under the Status of Forces Agreement should consult with their chain of command for the most current requirements pertaining to their entry as United States Forces Japan continues to enforce restrictions associated with a declared Public Health Emergency extended through the end of 2020.

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