COVID Policies Loosening in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong

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Tokyo, Japan

Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong have announced significant changes to their arrival policies—though in one case it is likely not enough to attract international meeting groups.

Starting October 11, Japan will no longer require visas for visitors and will abolish its daily arrival cap. The current stringent visa policies have been in place for nearly 2½ years due to COVID-19.

However, entry is not free and clear; visitors will need to show proof of three vaccine doses (two and a booster) or submit a negative PCR test 72 hours before departing for Japan.

As of October 1, Thailand will end its nationwide COVID-19 Emergency Decree (state of emergency) and no longer require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test for visitors to enter. The country is reclassifying COVID-19 from “a dangerous communicable disease” to “a communicable disease under surveillance.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has done away with its restrictive quarantine requirements for incoming visitors, which closely followed China’s COVID Zero policies—however, the new policies require daily COVID testing.

Arriving travelers are required to take a rapid-antigen test before departure, then a PCR test upon arrival—but that is just the beginning. Under the new guidelines, they still must take PCR tests on days 2, 4 and 6 and daily rapid antigen tests from days 1 to 7. They also are banned from “high-risk premises,” such as bars and restaurants, for the first three days.

The move is seen by some as a test run for loosening of COVID restrictions throughout mainland China. “Hong Kong [can be] a pilot project on border [reopening and] can let mainland Chinese authorities review the impact and relevant data,” Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, told Financial Times.

In September, Macau opened its borders to nonresidents from 41 countries entry, but still requires 7 days of medical observation at a government-approved quarantine hotel.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.