What it's like traveling to Japan amid the Omicron variant

Asia's Tech News Daily

Like so many people around the world, my life was massively upended by the pandemic.

What it's like traveling to Japan amid the Omicron variant
© Hiro Komae/AP Men hold their phones as they stand by an arrival gate for international flights at the Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. Going further than many other countries in trying to contain the virus, Japan has banned foreign visitors and asked international airlines to stop taking new reservations for all flights arriving in the country until the end of December.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

After getting legally married in 2019, my husband and I planned to have our wedding celebration early the following year in California.

We were living in Beijing when the Covid-19 outbreak began. Soon after my husband left for a short business trip in Dubai, but he ended up getting stuck there for nine months.

We finally reunited at my new work base of Tokyo, and in the process delayed the wedding three times before finally settling on November 19, 2021.

Surrounded by friends and family I hadn’t seen in years, life started to feel like it was returning to normal.

From southern California, we went to Hawaii for a honeymoon. We were amazed by the crowds of tourists, the fully booked hotels, packed beaches and busy restaurants.

But that feeling of normalcy was short lived. On November 30, just days before we were due to fly back to Japan, the country reported its first case of the Omicron variant.

Japan once again closed its borders to all foreigners, in one of the world’s strictest precautionary measures. Initially, the government even asked airlines to stop accepting reservations for inbound flights.

Just a day later, Japan retracted the ban, following an outcry that it would strand Japanese residents and nationals — I am a resident with a work visa — overseas. Daily international arrivals were reduced from 5,000 to 3,500 people per day.

My flight back to Tokyo from Hawaii was canceled at the last minute, with no warning — I didn’t realize it was canceled until I tried to check in online the day before, only to discover my itinerary didn’t exist. After hours on the phone with airline customer service, it ended up that our only option was to fly back to California, then all the way back to Japan.

Less than an hour before we arrived at the airport in Honolulu, negative PCR tests in hand, Hawaii was added to the list of places where arriving Japanese residents and nationals would have to quarantine at government-designated quarantine facilities. (After already being quarantined in Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo before, I was ready for it.)

Hawaii confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant on December 2, the day before our flight.

When my husband and I finally arrived in Tokyo on December 5, we went through the lengthy process of filling out health questionnaires, getting Covid tested and downloading contact tracing apps. We were shuttled through empty Narita airport for each step until finally being directed to a waiting area.

Ten hours later, we finally got on a bus to a hotel near the airport that had been turned into a quarantine facility.

Opening the door in the quarantine room — except to briefly grab food left outside — is banned. The loudspeaker announces three times a day when the food is available, “Squid Game” style. Each morning we have to submit a health questionnaire online.

On the third day, we’ll be Covid-tested, then sent back to the airport. From there, travelers have to take private transport to quarantine at home for 11 more days. (Depending on the region they came from, some travelers have to quarantine in the government facility for up to 14 days.)

The Japanese government counts the day post-landing as day one of quarantine. The government pays costs associated with quarantine, not travelers.

The World Health Organization has warned that “Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”

As governments have rushed to impose a fresh round of restrictions, travelers have found themselves confused, frustrated and — in some cases — suddenly stranded. Rules are changing by the day, even by the hour, putting the burden on travelers to be prepared for any scenario.

Other Asian regions have taken even more extreme measures. Residents of Hong Kong have to quarantine for 21 days (paid out of their own pocket) in government hotels if they’re returning from countries considered high risk.

After more than a year of tough border controls, many there are feeling isolated, frustrated, and trapped. But in combination with other pandemic control measures, these regions have reported low Covid case counts, with single-digit daily case numbers in Hong Kong and around a hundred per day in Japan.

Research shows that travel bans are more like a Band-Aid than a long-term solution. At the same time, they exact high economic and social costs. Nearly two years into the pandemic, the world was just starting to breathe a sigh of relief. Gatherings like weddings, holiday trips, and international family reunions were finally resuming.

Instead, new variants continue to emerge. The world remains vulnerable due to factors like uneven distribution of vaccines around the world and limited duration of immunity from vaccines.

So expect the new variant(s) to continue to wreak havoc on travel plans everywhere as governments keep on playing a game of Whac-a-mole.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Kentucky congressman against mandates says he has COVID-19

© Provided by Associated Press Virus Outbreak Kentucky Congressman LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky congressman who has been critical of pandemic mask and vaccine mandates said he has tested ... Read more »

Primark fans are raving about its new £4 sports bras they say give an ‘instant boob job'

IF YOU thought you couldn't love Primark any more than you already do…well, we have news. Primark fans have been going crazy recently for their new-in items, including Kim Kardashian-inspired ... Read more »

Headteacher's heartache as two pupils stabbed to death in 6 months

A headteacher has paid tribute to two of his pupils who were stabbed to death within six months of each other. Oasis Academy Shirley Park pupil Zaian Aimable-Lina, 15, died ... Read more »

Roberto Lopes' Cape Verde to face Sadio Mane and Senegal in AFCON last-16

© PA Sadio Mane vs Roberto Lopes. THE LINE-UP for the knockout stage of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has been finalised, with Roberto Lopes and Cape Verde ... Read more »

Lloris ‘reaches agreement' to extend Tottenham contract

© PA Images Hugo Lloris rolls the ball out Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has reached an agreement on a new contract, according to reports. Lloris has been with Spurs ... Read more »

Arsenal pave the way for Bernd Leno transfer exit with 'strong' replacement bid

Arsenal are looking to sign goalkeeper Matt Turner from New England Revolution and have tabled a strong bid, according to reports. The Gunners are looking to sign the USA international ... Read more »

Diogo Jota brace fires Liverpool past Arsenal and into Carabao Cup final to face Chelsea

© Getty Images GettyImages-1365918929.jpg A match that finally took place, but there was no actual contest. Arsenal, it could be argued, still didn’t really play. Liverpool reached a fifth cup ... Read more »

Supreme Court rebuffs abortion providers again over Texas 6-week ban

© Julia Nikhinson Protesters outside Supreme Court as justices hear arguments in high-profile abortion case The Supreme Court on Thursday rebuffed abortion providers’ latest legal maneuver in their challenge to ... Read more »

Man (60s) dies after crash involving car and SUV in Co Longford

© Shutterstock Damien Storan A MAN HAS died following a two-vehicle collision in Co Longford this afternoon.  Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a collision involving a car and an ... Read more »

How to Fix Up Your Garage with New Gear and Tech

If you’re like us, your garage is your sanctuary. It’s where we do our projects, it’s where we work on our cars and motorcycles. And honestly, sometimes it’s where we ... Read more »

Victim recounts terrifying time her stalker followed her to Ibiza

Abby said her stalker first came into her life on her birthday in 2020 when he turned up at her parents’ house with a present and asked for a selfie ... Read more »

House GOP slams Biden Ukraine ‘weakness' on inauguration anniversary

House Republicans slammed President Biden for stating that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be less severe if it was a “minor incursion.” Getty Images House Republicans tore into President ... Read more »

UN adopts Israeli resolution to combat Holocaust denial

The United Nations on Thursday adopted a measure to fight Holocaust denial and condemn the Nazi genocide that killed millions of Jews. The Israeli resolution lists actions countries should take ... Read more »

COVID leaves lasting scars as Biden marks first year in office

Washington, DC – Sabila Khan says she is frustrated and tired. She lost her father, Shaqat Khan, to the coronavirus in 2020, and feels disappointed by what she says is an ... Read more »

Geopolitical events in Ukraine cause North American stock markets to plunge

TORONTO — North American stock markets plunged midafternoon on geopolitical concerns following a report that the U.S. has approved arms shipments from Baltic NATO members to Ukraine to fend off ... Read more »

How Scott Rolen's Blue Jays tenure strengthened his Hall of Fame case

Because of his inclusion in the trade that brought the Toronto Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion, Scott Rolen will always be an important figure in the franchise’s history. © Provided by ... Read more »

S&P 500 Stumbles as Selling Into Strength Continues

© Reuters S&P 500 Stumbles as Selling Into Strength Continues By Yasin Ebrahim Investing.com – The S&P 500 ended sharply lower Thursday, paced by a slump in consumer discretionary stocks, ... Read more »

Giants conclude second interview with Adam Peters

The Giants appear to be moving close to naming a new General Manager. They have concluded a second interview with a third candidate. The team announced that 49ers assistant General ... Read more »

Why Google is a key piece of the AR glasses race

© Provided by CNET Google Glass explored the smart glasses route before (above). But Google returning to AR could solve a new generation of challenges. Robert Couto What seemed likely ... Read more »

The frustrating Covid-19 test reimbursement process is a microcosm of US health care

© Ted S. Warren/AP Customers walk past boxes of at-home Covid-19 tests for sale at a Washington CVS store in November 2021. As of January 15, Americans with private insurance ... Read more »

US charges Belarusians allegedly involved in hijacking of flight carrying activist

Who is Roman Protasevich? See more videos What to watch next Convicted murderer charged with 2 cold cases: Police Convicted murderer charged with 2 cold cases: Police Biden hosts news ... Read more »

Boxing champ Mohammad Javad sentenced to death in Iran for ‘protesting'

Mohammad Javad’s death sentence follows that of Navid Afkari, 27, who was hanged in September 2020. A boxing champion has been sentenced to death for “protesting” as part of Iran’s ... Read more »

Hammerstone vs. Davey Richards Set to Headline Next Month’s MLW ‘SuperFight’

© Provided by Sports Illustrated Hammerstone is putting his MLW heavyweight championship on the line against a veteran of the ring. View the original article to see embedded media. Major ... Read more »

Team Navalny Photo Leak Claims to Show Putin’s Luxury Pole-Dancing Cave

© Provided by The Daily Beast FBK / Team Navalny Website A new investigation by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK)—a non-profit organization established by imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny—has unearthed photos ... Read more »

PlayStation Wrap-up: Find out how much time your family spent on the PS4 and PS5 last year

© SONY PlayStation Wrap-up If you or a family member has a PS4 or PS5, then you might want to check out Sony’s annual PlayStation Wrap-up. The PlayStation Wrap-up provides ... Read more »

Manchester United 'open door' for Ousmane Dembele and more transfer rumours

Manchester United have ‘opened the door’ to sign wantaway France winger Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona – according to reports. Having finished as runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League ... Read more »

Soccer-Gambia upset Tunisia in another Cup of Nations shock

LIMBE, Cameroon (Reuters) – Gambia substitute Ablie Jallow scored a stunning goal deep in stoppage time to earn his team a shock 1-0 win over Tunisia at the Africa Cup ... Read more »

Robin and Marian: How Sean Connery enticed Audrey Hepburn to come out of retirement

Back in 1967, Audrey Hepburn starred in the psychological thriller Wait Until Dark, which saw her role as a terrorised blind woman mark her fifth and final Oscar nomination. The ... Read more »

Galvin Green Maddox Polo Shirt Review

© Provided by Golf Monthly Galvin Green Maddox Polo Shirt Review In this Galvin Green Maddox polo shirt review, I give my thoughts on the premium garment after putting it ... Read more »

Divisional Round Full-Slate FanDuel Picks: NFL DFS Lineup advice for playoff GPP tournaments

The second round of the NFL Playoffs is packed with good teams and plenty of potential stars and value sleepers for NFL DFS tournaments. You have to take some level of strategy ... Read more »

Djokovics Biotech-Beteiligung? «Das ist Voodoo»

Die serbische Tennis-Weltnummer 1 ist an einer Firma beteiligt, die an einer Therapie gegen das Coronavirus arbeitet. Doch Fachleute sind ziemlich skeptisch. © Foto: David Gray (AFP) Novak Djokovic und ... Read more »

Warum die Schweiz im Rennen um die Ski-Krone wieder hinter Österreich zurückgefallen ist

© Jeff McIntosh/keystone-sda.ch Österreichischer Doppelsieg: Im Lake Louise gewann Matthias Mayer vor Vincent Kriechmayr. Zuletzt hat das Schweizer Skiteam den Nationencup zweimal in Serie gewonnen. Dieses Jahr hat Nachbar Österreich ... Read more »

With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, states look to pick up the slack

© Provided by Yahoo! News With action to address climate change stalled in Congress, states across the country are ramping up efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In his ... Read more »

Massive explosion rocks town in Ghana

On Location: January 20, 2022 See more videos What to watch next Convicted murderer charged with 2 cold cases: Police Convicted murderer charged with 2 cold cases: Police Biden hosts ... Read more »

Jamie Dornan tipped to be next James Bond after shining in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast

© BBC/Stan/HBO Max & ZDF/Ian Routledge jamiedornanthetourist21 Odds have been slashed on Jamie Dornan becoming the next James Bond as the actor receives high praise for his roles in Belfast ... Read more »

Cheap but not nasty — the new Chery Tiggo 4 Pro 1.5T Elite

The Chinese manufacturer Chery has recently made a home for itself in South Africa. It aims to silence its critics with the launch of the new Tiggo Pro 4 and ... Read more »

US charges second man in killing of Haitian President Moise

The United States Justice Department has announced charges against a second man it accuses of being involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise last year. Rodolphe Jaar, 49, ... Read more »

Brazil central bank chief sees no major Omicron impact on economy yet

© Reuters/Adriano Machado FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s central bank president, Roberto Campos Neto, pictured in 2020 BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto said on Thursday the Omicron ... Read more »

ASX to fall, Wall Street rally fades

© Provided by ABC Business The ASX is set to fall after a rally faded on Wall Street.  (ABC News: John Gunn) A Wall Street rally has faded in late ... Read more »

Madison Cawthorn caught cleaning gun during veterans’ health hearing

© Photo Courtesy of the Committee North Carolina representative Madison Cawthorn addresses the Republican national convention on August 26, 2020. – (Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic