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Japan could drop restrictions on travellers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, say reports

Japan could drop restrictions on the number of visitors amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to media reports.

Government officials are believed to be considering removing the daily cap of 50,000 tourists entering the country a day via specialist travel agencies -a move brought in due to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which first halted international travel in March 2020 - to benefit from the weak yen.

The news of the potential change in the rules comes after the Asian country experienced a surge in tourism in the year before the onset of the virus with a recorded 31 million visitors. In 2021, 245,000 people visited the country - a low not see since records began in 1964 - after it adopted some of the current tightest travel rules in the world as other countries have returned to normal entry requirements, similar, if not identical to pre-pandemic conditions.

In the end of 2021, Japan brought in a virtual travel ban as the variant Omicron shook the world, which was considered to be much more contagious than previous variants of the virus. This policy was condemned by workers, students and others who found themselves stuck there.

Now nearly a year later, the country’s leader, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has faced calls to do something about the lifting of the rules currently restricting travel to the world’s third largest economy.

Hirokazu Matsuno, the chief cabinet secretary told the Kyodo news agency the government sought to maintain “a balance between preventing the spread of infection and promoting social and economic activities” when thinking about the easing of the rules.

Last week, the number of daily visitors was increased from 20,000 to the current allowance of 50,000, who all must be vaccinated three times, and if they are not, they must test for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before departure.

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