Japan imposes tighter controls on visitors from China, South Korea

The international arrivals lobbies at Japan's two largest international airports were quiet on Monday, as the country ramped up border control measures in an effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The government is now asking travelers from China and South Korea to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

The Japanese government has requested airlines from China and South Korea to use only Narita International Airport, near Tokyo, and Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

According to Narita's quarantine station, an airplane from Incheon Airport, outside of Seoul, arrived at 8 a.m. on Monday carrying only eight passengers. Officials urged the passengers to check their conditions daily for two weeks and contact health centers immediately if they develop symptoms like cough and fever.

"The government doesn't seem to have sufficient measures in place to help people who are visiting Japan," said a man who had been in South Korea on business. "I should be at work today but I have to stay at home instead."

On Sunday, people flooded into the country to avoid the impending measures.

"I planned to come here at the end of the month for my studies," said a Korean student who arrived at Narita. "But these restrictions made me push up my arrangements."

Government request

The government is asking people arriving from China and South Korea, including Japanese nationals, to stay at home or in private accommodation for two weeks, at their own expense. It is also requesting these travelers to avoid using public transportation, and to take private or rental cars directly from the airport to their homes or accommodation. Quarantine officials at the airports are asking visitors from these countries for the addresses of where they plan to stay for the two weeks, as well as information on how they plan to travel from the airport to their accommodation. If arrangements are not in place, the officials will ask the visitors to remain at the airport.

These measures are expected to remain in place until the end of the month. While they are not legally binding, the health ministry says it plans to enforce them to the best of its ability.