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Planning a trip to Japan, Taiwan: Do I need to wear a mask there? Is a Covid-19 test required?

All entrants to both Japan and Taiwan must have a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Japan will allow individual travellers to enter from Oct 11, marking the country's most decisive move yet to revive tourism.

Japan will reinstate visa waivers and the cap on daily arrivals will be lifted, said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday at a news conference in New York.

This further easing of Covid-19-related rules comes after the nation reopened its borders in June. At that point, only leisure travellers on tour packages were allowed in.

Earlier in September, the country moved to allow tourists to travel without having to be part of a guided tour.

Taiwan is also scrapping its mandatory Covid-19 quarantine for arrivals from around Oct 13, and will ease other restrictions from next week as it continues to reopen.

The Straits Times explains the latest slew of changes.

Q: What are the main changes I need to be aware of?

A: Visa waivers will be reinstated for both Japan and Taiwan in the coming weeks.

The changes for Japan will take effect from Oct 11.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Japan allowed visitors from 68 countries and regions, including Singapore, to stay for as long as 90 days without a visa.

The cap on daily arrivals in Japan will also end. Previously, the daily limit for all arrivals – including Japanese nationals, foreign residents and those entering on business and tourist visas – was 50,000.

As for Taiwan, visa-free entry for nationals of all countries that were on the visa-waiver list before the pandemic will resume from Sept 29.

The weekly limit for international visitors to Taiwan will reportedly be raised to 150,000 from Oct 13, alongside the lifting of a ban on tour groups.

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Q: What are the latest Covid-19 vaccination and on-arrival testing requirements?

A: All entrants to Japan must have valid Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

Those who have not received three jabs of an approved vaccine will need to take a pre-departure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of departure.

This ruling is currently in place and will reportedly continue even after Oct 11.

Japan does not recognise Chinese-made vaccines for Covid-19.

Taiwan, which does not require vaccination checks, said it is scrapping PCR tests for inbound passengers from Sept 29.

Q: Do I need to serve quarantine upon arriving in Japan or Taiwan?

A: Travellers from Singapore can enter Japan without serving quarantine or taking on-arrival Covid-19 tests from Oct 11.

Taiwan is aiming to remove the requirement that all arrivals quarantine at a hotel or home for three days, followed by four days of self-monitoring, from Oct 13.

Q: Do I need to have a self-reporting or contact-tracing app?

A: The Japanese government announced last week that it is ending the use of the Cocoa, or Covid-19 Contact App, for smartphones. However, when this will take effect has not yet been announced by the authorities.

In Taiwan, contact tracing is no longer required. 

Q: Do I need to wear a mask when I'm there?

A: While the wearing of masks is not compulsory in Japan and there is no legal obligation to don one, it is strongly recommended to do so when someone is in indoor spaces and on public transport.

However, the government is reportedly considering a change to the law that would enable hotels and inns to turn away guests who refuse to comply with infection control measures such as mask wearing.

In Taiwan, the mask-wearing mandate will remain, with people required to don masks at all times while in public. Masks can be temporarily removed while eating and drinking, and should be put back on immediately after.

Social distancing is also encouraged. 

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