Japan, Hong Kong, China: What are the latest travel restrictions?

Japan will fully reopen to foreign tourists in October after more than two years of COVID-19 border restrictions.

The news comes as Taiwan and Hong Kong also relax their entry rules for visitors.

From Monday, people arriving in Hong Kong will no longer have to check in to mandatory hotel quarantine.

Restrictions will also ease in Taiwan, with compulsory quarantine requirements set to end from the middle of next month.

Politicians in each area touted the move as a “return to normal life.”

But would-be visitors to nearby China still face harsh quarantine policies.

So what are the rules for travel to the region – and how soon should you book your ticket?

What are the rules for travel to Japan?

Japan has allowed a small number of visitors since June, but only as part of strictly managed tour groups.

From 11 October, these requirements will be dropped and the cap on daily arrivals lifted. Tourists will no longer need a visa to enter the country.

“Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the US,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

In 2019, 31.9 million foreign visitors travelled to Japan, spending 4.81tn yen (€35.2 billion). This revenue all but disappeared when the pandemic hit.

In 2021, the country hosted just 250,000 international visitors. This figure includes all the athletes and support staff who travelled to the country for the Tokyo Olympics.

What are the travel rules for Taiwan?

Taiwan will reopen its borders from 13 October.

Authorities will scrap the current requirement that arrivals quarantine in hotels for three days, followed by four days of self-monitoring.

Instead, arrivals will be asked to self-monitor for seven days.

People who were able to enter the country without a visa before the pandemic will once again be able to do so from 29 September. A ban on tour groups will be lifted from October.

“It has finally come to the final moment of the pandemic,” President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on her Facebook page.

“Now, we must make every effort to revive tourism, stimulate the economy and lead Taiwan’s economy to develop by leaps and bounds.”

Visitors who test positive for COVID-19 will still have to quarantine at a hotel or at home.

What are the travel rules for Hong Kong?

From Monday 26 October, travellers arriving in Hong Kong will no longer have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine.

The requirement to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the city will also be dropped.

To cater for a sudden surge in demand, Cathay Pacific has added more than 200 pairs of flights in October.

Travellers will still have to abide by some rules, however. They will have to take a PCR test on days two, four, and six after their arrival. For three days after they land, they will not be allowed to enter public areas like shopping malls and restaurants.

What are the travel rules for China?

China is still pursuing a ‘zero COVID’ policy, and maintains strict entry rules for travellers.

Travellers to China face 10 days of hotel quarantine at their own expense.

However, the country’s authorities recently hinted that restrictions might eventually ease.

According to a draft policy document released by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Monday, tour groups organised by travel agencies may soon be able to run in China’s border areas.

This plan is similar to the Japanese tour policy that has been in place for much of this year.

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