Transport officials in Japan have announced that the country will welcome international cruise ships again after a ban put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus was lifted on Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, the Japanese government has said the island nation is ready to resume international cruise operations after “ship operators and port authority associations adopted anti-virus guidelines”.
The schedule for return voyages is not yet finalized, but the first ship to depart on an international voyage will depart from Yokohama in December and visit Mauritius before returning in January.
As part of the cruise industry’s reintroduction requirements to the Japanese market, crew members must have received three coronavirus vaccines, while most passengers must be vaccinated at least twice. Vessels must also meet government standards for ventilation, distancing and disinfection.
“Japan is now ready to start receiving international cruise ships again,” Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito said. “We will create an environment that will allow tourists to enjoy their cruise carefree while in Japan.”
The country’s transportation ministry said more than 2.15 million cruise ship passengers visited Japan in 2019 before the pandemic halted travel. The nation halted cruising after an outbreak on the Diamond Princess in March 2020 forced 3,711 passengers and crew to self-quarantine for two weeks, leaving 13 dead and more than 700 infected.
Local authorities and cruise ship operators are expected to discuss their port entry plans further in the coming weeks.
In September, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that the country would lift its strict border restrictions and make it easier for travelers to visit on leisure trips. Kishida said previous caps on the number of travelers would be lifted and visa requirements imposed during the coronavirus pandemic would be waived.
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