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Omicron variant: Japan withdraws new flight booking ban after criticism

TOKYO – Japan said it was withdrawing its ban on new international flight bookings to protect against a new variant of the coronavirus just a day after the policy was announced.

The Ministry of Transport on Wednesday issued a request to international airlines to stop accepting new bookings for flights to Japan until the end of December as an urgent precaution to combat the Omicron variant. new.

The department said on Thursday it was withdrawing the request after receiving criticism from at home and abroad that the ban was too strict.

The request is aimed at reducing Japan’s daily international arrivals to 3,500 from 5,000 previously to tighten border controls as the new variant spreads around the world, officials said. official said.

“The request, made as an urgent precaution, has caused confusion,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters on Thursday.

“The Ministry of Transport has withdrawn the request to stop syncing for new bookings and notified airlines to consider the water needs of Japanese nationals,” said Matsuno.

Japan has reported two cases of the Omicron variant, first reported in South Africa last week.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people worse, and whether it makes people sick. interfere with the vaccine.

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