Effective March 1, 2023, the Japanese government has lifted some COVID-related travel restrictions for passengers arriving from mainland China. Previously, all passengers traveling from mainland China were subject to on-arrival COVID testing. Under the new regulations, only around 20% of passengers arriving on direct flights from mainland China will be subject to on-arrival testing, with the goal of collecting samples for genome sequencing. All travelers from mainland China are still required to show proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Japan’s announcement comes as other countries, such as South Korea, have begun rolling back travel requirements that were imposed on passengers from China following the end of that country’s “Zero COVID” policy.

Background: The End of “Zero COVID”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the PRC government maintained some of the world’s strictest protocols to control the spread of the virus. Known as “Zero COVID,” the government’s strategy included widespread testing, strict quarantine measures, and restrictions on inbound and outbound travel. These restrictions were lifted over the past several months, leading countries around the world to reimpose COVID-related restrictions on travelers from China. This trend has now begun to reverse, with Japan and South Korea easing on-arrival testing requirements. Should the COVID situation in China continue to improve, other countries may soon follow suit.