Quarantine in Japan has been made more complicated for many by the introduction of COVID-19 prevention measures, and my experience was no different. For those of us who have been given the all-clear to enter Japan, the (re)entry process may come across as daunting. However, understanding the arrival and quarantine process may help reduce the stress of navigating this difficult situation. Read on for my experience returning to Japan from arrival to quarantine, which may give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive.
Quarantine in Japan; You’ve Arrived… Now What?
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For many, post-landing anticipation is one of the most exciting parts of travelling abroad. However, this time, the fear that I had forgotten some important document or other was almost level with my excitement at having arrived in Japan.
After disembarking, we were taken to an area where we were seated on numbered chairs placed at small intervals and handed several forms. These included a pledge stating that we would not break quarantine rules and a ‘health card’ that we would need to show at each stop of our journey through the airport.
After filling these in, airport staff asked us to line up before several desks where they checked our visas and asked our preference for smoking or non-smoking hotel rooms (the majority of us had arrived from countries that required a hotel quarantine period) before we each took a saliva PCR test.
We then made our way through a maze-like path of stations spread out at long intervals where various parts of the quarantine procedure, including explanations about the COCOA (link for Android and iPhone) and My SOS apps (link for Android and iPhone), were given to us and we were allowed to ask any questions we had.
Finally, we reached a lobby where we were told to wait for our test results. By the time we had reached the lobby, the arrival process had already taken us about three hours (including a walk that definitely burned more than a few calories).
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After a long wait, those of us who had tested negative were given a stamped slip of paper and allowed to go through immigration and baggage collection to the arrivals lounge. Once in the arrivals lounge, we waited for those who still hadn’t passed through immigration before getting on a coach to our quarantine hotel.
Hotel Quarantine in Japan
After arriving at the hotel, we went through a sort-of ‘check-in’ process. Except, instead of being given a room key and told check-out times, we were given thermometers for the hotel’s daily health report and told to call the hotel’s hotline if we needed anything.
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Each day we were woken up at around 8 am by an announcement detailing breakfast procedures before breakfast was brought to our rooms and left hanging outside on our door handles. In order to avoid contact with the hotel staff, we were asked not to open the doors until we were given the all-clear to do so. Before 11 am we received an announcement asking us to complete the hotel’s health questionnaire, and then again at around 11 am and 4 pm to signal lunch and dinner.
However, on the final day, we were woken up an hour earlier to take a PCR test similar to the ones that we did when we first arrived. After all our samples had been collected, the hotel staff tasked with collecting the samples told us to wait until the results came back, which took about 8 hours.
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(Home, Sweet) Home Quarantine
The buses to take us back to the airport from the hotel began arriving at around 3 pm. I received a call on the room phone at around that time to tell me that I had tested negative for COVID-19 and that I should get the lift down to the lobby once I had finished packing.
When I got downstairs, all I had to do was return the thermometer I had been given when I arrived and the room key before getting on one of the waiting coaches. The driver asked each of us whether we would like to be taken to Terminal 1 or 2, and once we were all seated, we were off.
Once we returned to the airport, we were then left to find our own way (via private transport) to the locations we would carry out the rest of our quarantine. ‘Private transport’ includes walking or cyling from the airport, private hire vehicles (not taxis), pickup by someone who you be living with, private car hire or via dedicated quarantine buses or train carriages.
Throughout the remainder of the quarantine period, I received daily automated calls and random requests to check in through the My SOS app to make sure I haven’t left my quarantine location. While it has definitely been an interesting two weeks, I am definitely looking forward to being able to roam freely again.
More on Returning to Japan:
For those who would like more information on returning to Japan, please check out the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/returntojapan/.
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