Transportation officials in Japan announced the country would welcome international cruise ships again after a ban put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus was lifted on Tuesday.
According to The Associated Press, the Japanese government said the island nation is ready to resume its international cruise operations after “ship operators and port authorities’ associations have adopted anti-virus guidelines.”
The schedule for returning voyages yet to be finalized, but the first vessel set to depart on an international sailing will depart from Yokohama in December and visit Mauritius before returning in January.
As part of the requirements for the cruise industry’s reintroduction to the Japanese market, crew members must have received three coronavirus vaccine shots, while most passengers must be vaccinated at least twice. Ships must also meet the government’s ventilation, distancing and disinfection standards.
“Japan is now ready to start receiving international cruise ships again,” Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito said. “We will create an environment that allows tourists to enjoy their cruise without worry while in Japan.”
The country’s Transport Ministry said more than 2.15 million cruise ship passengers visited Japan in 2019 before the pandemic shut down travel. The nation shut down cruising after an outbreak on the Diamond Princess in March 2020 forced 3,711 passengers and crew members to quarantine for two weeks, leaving 13 people dead and more than 700 others infected.
Local authorities and cruise ship operators are expected to discuss their port entry plans further in the coming weeks.
In September, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the country would lift its strict border restrictions and make it easier for travelers to visit on leisure trips. Kishida said the previous caps on the number of travelers would be lifted and visa requirements imposed during the coronavirus pandemic would be rescinded.
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