The Japanese government has announced that the state of emergency, originally slated to end on May 11, 2021, has been extended to May 31 due to the ongoing high number of COVID variant cases in the country.  The entry ban on foreigners (including the business track for travelers from certain countries) and the freeze on the issuance of most visas will continue indefinitely.  In addition to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, Fukuoka and Aichi prefectures will also be subject to the state of emergency starting May 12.  With the Tokyo Olympics expected to start in late July, the Japanese government has been vigilant in trying to reduce the spread of COVID within the country.  While bars and restaurants serving alcohol must still remain closed during the state of emergency, from May 12 the prefectural governors of each of the prefectures subject to the state of emergency can independently decide what other establishments should remain closed or be subject to other time restraints.  For example, while large-scale establishments (such as shopping malls, etc.) can remain open until 8:00 p.m. as of May 12, the prefectural governors of Tokyo and Osaka have indicated that such establishments shall remain closed for the duration of the state of emergency.

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Effective April 25, 2021, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo due to a rise in COVID variant infections.  The state of emergency will run until May 11, during which the entry ban on foreigners and the freeze on most issuance of visas will continue as mentioned in our prior blog post.  This is the third state of emergency for Japan.  During the state of emergency, large-scale establishments (e.g., shopping malls), bars and restaurants serving alcohol ­must all be closed.  Large-scale events must in principle be without spectators and residents subject to the state of emergency are asked to avoid traveling for non-essential purposes.  Due to a new amendment to the Special Measures Law that came into effect in February, restaurants that fail to comply with orders will be subject to fines of up to 300,000 Japanese Yen (approximately $2,780).

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India has reported the highest number of COVID-positive cases in any single day, in any country, since the pandemic.  New strain variants first identified in India have also appeared in other countries.  In reaction, multiple countries across the globe have announced restrictions on travel from India, and more are likely to follow in quick succession, repeating a pattern often seen during the pandemic where there have been surges in reported infections or fatalities.  Canada has announced a 30-day ban on flights from India and Pakistan.

Continue reading on the Mobile Workforce Blog.

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Business entry and visa processing continue to be frozen, even weeks after the state of emergency declaration has ended. With a rebound in COVID infections in major cities, the issuance and processing of new visas into the country will likely continue for the foreseeable future. See the current measures with respect to visa restrictions.

The Japanese Prime Minister announced that, effective April 12, Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa will again be subject to more restrictive COVID-19 measures. The new restrictions, which are distinct from and are less severe compared to a state of emergency, allows the Japanese government to place restrictions on designated cities and areas such as requesting that restaurants close by 8:00pm and that citizens from the specified areas refrain from traveling outside of their respective prefecture.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

As a proud, first-generation Lithuanian, Chicago counsel Paul (“Povilas”) Sarauskas has carried on the tradition of Easter egg decorating for close to 50 years. He was raised speaking Lithuanian and has maintained strong ties to his heritage.

“As a child, everyday life was ingrained in being Lithuanian, whether I liked it or not,” said Paul. “In grammar school in Cicero—a suburb of Chicago—even the nuns were Lithuanian and, when we moved to the suburbs, my Saturdays were in Lemont, where I attended six hours of school, covering history, geography, singing, dancing and… egg decorating. Yes, I’m quite an eggs-pert.”

Paul even danced in the 1972 Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival (an Olympic-style event that takes place around the world) at the old Chicago Amphitheater, where then-first lady Pat Nixon was the guest of honor. Other attendees included then-vice president Spiro Agnew, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Continue Reading An Egg-cellent, Pandemic-Proof Tradition

The strict COVID-19 restrictions on foreigner entry into Japan continue despite the end of the state of emergency for Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures on March 21, 2021.  The strict restrictions will continue to suspend even essential business travel (available for travelers from any country) and the special “Business Track” entry (available for travelers from Singapore, China and other select countries).  The current ban on entry into Japan does not apply to Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with current residency status.  On March 21, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare announced a plan to expand testing for COVID-19 variant strains to all entrants to Japan.

For background, as of March 19, 2021 all travelers entering Japan (regardless of nationality or residency status) must submit a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to departure.  All travelers from 24 designated countries (as of March 22, 2021), including Germany, France and Belgium, are required to provide proof of negative testing for COVID-19 variants prior to departure, upon arrival and three days after arrival in Japan, in addition to closely monitored quarantine measures upon arrival.  Japanese officials have indicated that the aforementioned measures will be expanded to all travelers coming into Japan regardless of the country of departure.  Failure to obtain such a certificate of negative testing will result in a denial of entry into Japan.  The Japanese government has also begun requiring entrants into the country via Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport to install the location services app “OSSMA”, the app for notification of close contacts with infected persons “COCOA” and the video communications app Skype.   A similar requirement is expected to begin for travelers arriving at other airports across the country as well.

As mentioned in our prior blog post, the Japanese government has been discussing a variety of measures to limit entry into Japan.  While the 2,000 per day cap on entry into Japan has not been officially implemented, the Japanese government has been working with airline companies to limit the number of travelers coming into the country, including a request to foreign airline companies to limit the number of passengers on international flights to Japan to 100 passengers.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

The Japanese government is considering the implementation of a COVID-19 measure to limit entry into the country to 2,000 travelers per day.  Japanese citizens and permanent residents will also be subject to the daily cap on travelers entering Japan.  The separate measure for travel into the country for essential business travel from Singapore, China and several other countries will continue to be suspended for the time being.

Additionally, under the new proposed COVID-19 measures which are being discussed, all travelers (regardless of nationality or residency status) will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to departure and be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine.  The Japanese government is also preparing to introduce a new smartphone application for daily video calls to monitor health of entrants into the country during the 14-day self-quarantine.

For additional information see the relevant materials (in Japanese) published by the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters (新型コロナウイルス感染症対策本部) and the initial report published by Nikkei on the above potential measures.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

The Canadian federal government has made a series of announcements regarding travel, quarantine, and testing requirements for travelers arriving by air and by land.  These new measures form part of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of new, more contagious COVID-19 variants feared to be introduced by travelers from overseas.  As of the date of this writing, the requirements are as follows.  Changes are being announced on a regular and frequent basis without advance notice, so please check for the latest requirements before booking or commencing travel.

Continue reading at Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce blog.

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The Japanese government has announced that the state of emergency has been extended to March 7, 2021.  The state emergency will continue to cover 10 prefectures, including Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures.  The state of emergency for Tochigi Prefecture is to be lifted on February 7.  This state of emergency was initially announced on January 8, 2021 and was set to expire on February 7 (see our prior post).  For prefectures subject to the state of emergency, the Japanese government has requested, among other measures, that restaurants and bars close by 8:00pm and citizens refrain from traveling for non-essential purposes after 8:00pm.

The special entry of business travelers from 11 countries, including China and South Korea, will continue to be suspended for the duration of the state of emergency.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Canada.  Today the Canadian Government announced rules further restricting international travel. According to the government’s press release:

  • Flight suspension.  All flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries suspended until April 30, 2021, in effect as of Sunday, January 31, 2021.
  • Routing Through Four Canadian Airports.  Effective midnight (11:59 PM EST) February 3, 2021, in addition to proof of a negative pre-departure test, all international flights will land at only four airports: Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto Pearson, Calgary, and Vancouver.  The new restrictions will include scheduled commercial passenger flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction.

Continue reading at Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce Blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.