Japan is all set to lift a ban that extended over two and a half years on international cruise vessels. This ban was placed following a deadly COVID-19 outbreak on the cruise ship named the Diamond Princess at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, transport officials mentioned on Tuesday.
The Transport Ministry mentioned that operators of cruise ships and port authorities’ associations have been following stringent anti-virus guidelines and that Japan is now set to resume end-to-end international cruise operations while receiving foreign vessels at the country’s ports.
Japan is preparing to receive international cruise vessels again, declared Tetsuo Saito, the Transport and Tourism Minister. We’ll create an environment that permits tourists to enjoy their cruise without any worry when they are in Japan.
The exact schedule for cruise ships has not officially been declared yet. Among the first is a Japanese vessel sailing from Yokohama in December 2022 for Mauritius and heading back in January.
Japan barred international cruise vessels in March 2020 following an episode of COVID-19 outbreak on the Diamond Princess that had forced about 3,711 passengers and crew members to quarantine on board for about two weeks. In this incident, 13 individuals lost their lives, and over 700 were infected with the deadly virus.
Japan had decided to isolate the crew members and guests while keeping them on board as a means of border control but was strongly criticized for turning the vessel into a COVID-19 virus incubator.
Cruise ship operators must discuss with relevant local authorities details regarding their port entry. Japan’s resumption of international cruise liners comes after over a year since they returned to Europe and the US.
Per the new guidelines, crew members must have received three COVID-19 vaccine shots, while most guests must be vaccinated at least twice. The policy calls for adequate ventilation, social distancing, and disinfecting common areas on ships.
After a significant delay compared to other nations, Japan started to reopen its borders to foreign tourists in October. The resumption of international cruise ship operations will help revive its tourism has been severely hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic, over 2.15 million cruise ship guests paid a visit to Japan in 2019, per the Transport and Tourism Ministry.
References: Washington Post, US News, ABC News