Travel between Australia and Japan could resume before the year is out, although the proposed restrictions will make those trips better suited to business travellers than holiday-makers.
Japan has closed its borders to all foreign visitors to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, and only last week lifted a nationwide 'state of emergency' as it prepared to reopen the economy.
Now a reopening of borders could follow, with Japanese media reporting that travel would be encouraged from selected countries – including Australia and New Zealand – with low levels of coronavirus infections.
However, visitors would need to show a negative test result for Covid-19 before boarding their flight to Japan and undergo a second test on arrival, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Once in Japan, visitors’ movements "would be restricted to areas including place of stay, company offices and factories", with the use of public transport banned.
This pretty much rules out a holiday in Japan, with those conditions geared more to business travellers, acknowledges Kyodo News. Vietnam and Thailand are also being considered for the Japanese travel bubble.
As previously reported, Singapore has also made overtures to Australia – along with New Zealand, Malaysia and South Korea – to establish a Covid-safe 'green lane' for air travel, while Greece has also invited Australia to join a global travel bubble of trusted countries from which it will accept visitors as of June 15 as part of the country's 'Restart Tourism' plan.
Participation in the Singapore and Greek proposals would require approval by the Australian government, as well as state governments with border restrictions, and the lifting of the current mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed on all inbound travellers.
International travel is expected to reopen for Australians to New Zealand in the third quarter of this year under a joint trans-Tasman bubble which may include other Pacific Island nations such as Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
"We are both very keen on it ... across both sides of the ditch,” says NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. "It won’t be too long before we are ready."
Government and airport officials, airlines and health specialists have been shaping the joint plan, which is expected to be tabled by the end of June, although it's yet to be determined if travellers would require some form of 'immunity passport' such as a negative test for COVID-19.