Coronavirus Update (19 June)
Long time no see. Here are your friendly COVID-19 related updates:
Cross-prefecture travel re-opened nationwide (19 June)
As of today, people may travel freely between all prefectures nationwide. Kumamoto Prefecture is still asking residents to continue avoiding the 3 Cs as well as to avoid outings in regions in which COVID-19 is still spreading. Please be proactive in acquiring information about where infections are spreading and take precautions when travelling. Prefectural employees are still being to avoid unnecessary and non-urgent business-related travel to Tokyo.
As we mentioned in our early updates in late-February and early-March, the decision about whether or not to travel to different prefectures is your own, but please make that decision after consulting with your CO first and reporting about your travel plans.
Prefecture further relaxes restrictions on public events (19 June)
From 19 June, the following events may take place given measures are taken to prevent the spread of infection:
1. Concerts, exhibitions, local festivals (as long as the number of participants can be controlled and the anticipated visitors are from a specific area)2. Indoor events of 1000 people or fewer where the number of participants is less than half of the capacity of the venue (→increase from 100 people).3. Outdoor events of 1000 people or fewer in which the distance between participants can be maintained (preferably 2m) (→increase from 200 people)4. Professional sports events (without spectators)
Events for which people are expected to attend from across the country/a wide area, in which it is difficult to grasp who the participants are such as festivals, outdoor music events should be considered carefully, including the possibility of cancellation (→no change).
COVID-19 Contact Confirming Application (COCOA) now online
The smartphone app developed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to help trace close contacts of people after they are confirmed to be infected has now been released. The app, when enabled, uses a smartphone’s Bluetooth capability to track “close contacts” (濃厚接触者 nо̄kо̄ sesshokusha), defined as being within 1 metre of another person for 15 minutes or longer.
If a user of the app tests positive for COVID-19, they can voluntarily report it using the application using a special code. The app then sends a notification to all other users detected as “close contacts” from the preceding 2 week period. If you receive a notification saying you were in close contact, you can then report to a local health centre. In order to protect user privacy, specific information such as the location and time of contact will remain confidential. Personal information is not recorded or exchanged. Information is not stored in a central database, only locally on the phone. Records of bluetooth-contact with other devices with the application enabled are automatically deleted after 2 weeks.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare believes that the application will only be effective if the voluntary uptake in the general population is 60% or higher, and so is encouraging as many people as possible to download the app. You can download the application using the following links:
For iPhone: https://apps.apple.com/jp/app/id1516764458For Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.go.mhlw.covid19radar
You can also search for ”接触確認アプリ” (sesshoku kakunin apuri) on your device.
The application can be used in English and Japanese.
Terms and Conditions of Use (English): (https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/english_rk_00031.html)
Prefecture adopts Kumamoto City’s 5-level advisory scale (8 June)
To improve clarity in public communications, Kumamoto Prefecture has decided to abandon its previous “area classification” (地域区分, chiiki kubun) and adopt a unified Risk Level warning system together with Kumamoto City. The City released the 5-level advisory scale at the end of March. https://www.pref.kumamoto.jp/kiji_33555.html
Currently, the risk level is set to Level 1, since no new infections have been confirmed in the prefecture in over 5 weeks, though there are still cases being confirmed in other parts of the country.
Here are the risk levels again as a reminder:
No warning (Level 0) – Exercise normal precautions, promote and implement the “new lifestyle” (新しい生活様式, atarashii seikatsu youshiki): Applies only if there are no confirmed cases anywhere in the country for a certain period of time.
Level 1 – Take measures to prefer the spread of infection at events/locations in which 3 major risk factors overlap (poorly ventilated closed spaces, places where many people are in close proximity, where people have conversations close to each other): This level applies if even a single case occurs within Japan.
Level 2 – Request to refrain from holding events in which the 3Cs are present. Closure of facilities attended by an unspecified large number of people: This level applies if even a single new case is confirmed in Kumamoto.
Level 3 – Refrain from any unnecessary and non-urgent outings at the weekend; request for restraint in participating in any events: This level applies if two cases of community spread in Kumamoto are confirmed.
Level 4 – Refrain from any unnecessary and non-urgent outings; do not travel outside of the prefecture; all events to be postponed or cancelled: this level applies if there are 4 or more cases of community spread in Kumamoto and more than 5 new cases in total.
No COVID-19 patients in Kumamoto hospitals (10 June)
As of 10 June, there are no longer any patients undergoing treatment in hospital in Kumamoto Prefecture for COVID-19. This is the first time there have been no coronavirus patients in hospital since the first case in Kumamoto was confirmed on 21 February. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/lnews/kumamoto/20200610/5000008429.html
Special permission to re-enter Japan for foreign nationals
Some people have asked about the Ministry of Justice policy concerning special permission to re-enter Japan for foreigners. There are a certain narrow number of cases in which, if a foreigner receives special advanced permission, they may be re-admitted to Japan. For example, to visit a relative in critical condition, attend the funeral of a deceased relative, receive medical treatment such as surgery, or to appear as a witness in court.
You can read the full statement about the policy on the Ministry of Justice website here: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001321982.pdf
However, these exceptions only apply to a very limited number of resident statuses. JET Participants are not typically holders of “Permanent Resident”, “Spouse or Child of Japanese National”, “Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident” or “Long-Term Resident” statuses, so permission to re-enter Japan will still be denied even under the above special circumstances.