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Covid-19: Canada, Japan, Australia... These countries which are lifting the latest restrictions

Canada, Japan, Australia or even Hong Kong: the last anti-Covid barriers are jumping one after the other all over the world, even if the pandemic is far from over, as in France, where it is regaining strength.

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Covid-19: Canada, Japan, Australia... These countries which are lifting the latest restrictions

Canada, Japan, Australia or even Hong Kong: the last anti-Covid barriers are jumping one after the other all over the world, even if the pandemic is far from over, as in France, where it is regaining strength. Latest country to lift or relax restrictions at their borders: Canada.

The Canadian government announced Monday, September 26 to put an end on Saturday, October 1 to all health restrictions at the borders aimed at combating the spread of Covid-19 and in particular the end of compulsory vaccination at the entrance to this country.

In Canada, travelers will no longer be required to be screened, quarantined or isolated. "We believe that we are now in a position to modify our approach to international borders", declared Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, indicating that "the health situation has greatly improved".

People over the age of 12 previously had to be vaccinated to enter Canada or undergo a screening test before entry, upon arrival and quarantine for 14 days. Random testing was also still in place for those vaccinated. In addition, Canada imposed the wearing of masks on planes and trains.

According to the Canadian government, transmission of the virus is mainly within the country. However, wearing a mask is still recommended to prevent the spread of the virus. "Imports of cases of Covid and its variants no longer significantly influence the evolution of the pandemic in the country", justified the Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos. "The focus must be on up-to-date vaccination (...) that's where you have to invest," said the minister, adding that the Covid-19 "is still there". About 90% of the population aged 12 and over have received two doses of the vaccine, and half have additionally received a booster, according to government figures.

Tokyo, for its part, announced the lifting from October 11 of the entry restrictions for tourists, imposed more than two years ago to deal with the pandemic. Speaking on September 22 before the New York Stock Exchange, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida indicated that "from October 11, Japan (will) relax border controls and allow visa exemption and individual trips. The quota of daily arrivals in the country had been gradually raised since the beginning of 2022 and recently stood at 50,000. This quota will also be abolished, added Fumio Kishida.

Japan, along with China, was among the states that continued to apply strict measures to limit the arrival of visitors, which had earned it criticism. The weakness of the yen, which has lost 20% of its value against the dollar since the start of the year, should make Japan even more attractive for many tourists. And an inflow of foreign currency could help stem the fall of the national currency and give a boost to economic recovery.

In June, the Japanese government authorized the return of foreign tourists, but only as part of organized trips. This device had been lightened at the beginning of September to authorize individual stays, but still via a travel agency. Japan did not resort to confinements during the pandemic, but the wearing of masks, without being imposed by the authorities, continues to be extremely widespread there in public places and transport. The mortality rate attributable to the coronavirus has been relatively low there (less than 35 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants).

The archipelago should take time to regain its record level of 31.9 million foreign visitors welcomed in 2019 and comparable financial benefits (4800 billion yen that year, or nearly 34 billion euros at the current rate) .

Hong Kong has for its part lifted since Monday the mandatory hotel quarantine for people arriving from abroad, the chief executive announced on September 23, ending more than two and a half years of international isolation. of the financial center.

Travelers must, however, undergo a PCR test upon arrival and are not allowed to go to bars and restaurants for the first three days. And tourists still run the risk of being isolated in a hotel room, or, in the worst case, being sent to a quarantine camp, if they test positive for the coronavirus upon arrival in Hong Kong. Quotas for arrivals from mainland China are also being scrapped, the government said.

The long-awaited lifting of restrictions should bring relief to residents and businesses who have been demanding that the Asian financial center follow the global trend by once again allowing unrestricted travel. The government was facing increasing pressure from residents, business leaders and even some of its own public health advisers to end the quarantine, especially after an epidemic wave earlier this year. .

At the height of the restrictions, the duration of isolation at the hotel reached 21 days. These rules have caused a major exodus: 113,000 people have left the city since mid-2021, according to official data. The economic cost has been significant. The city is currently in a technical recession after recording a decline in GDP for two consecutive quarters.

Earlier, Australia announced what is the most significant relaxation of anti-Covid measures in months: since September 9, the mandatory isolation period for people who test positive for Covid has been reduced to five days, instead of seven, while wearing a mask on domestic flights is no longer mandatory. "This is a proportionate response at this stage of the pandemic," Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on August 31.

The head of state had indicated that the relaxation of the rules would only apply to people who did not show symptoms. "Clearly if you have symptoms, we want people to stay home. We want people to act responsibly."

Australia had some of the world's toughest Covid measures in place, closing its international borders for two years and locking down most major cities for months. This strategy worked for much of the pandemic, but since January 2022 the number of recorded cases has surged, now exceeding 10 million.

The number of deaths has also increased, but a high vaccination rate has helped limit the number of deaths to 14,000 since the virus emerged, which is relatively low in this country of nearly 26 million people.

Labor shortages are high due to the requirement to self-isolate due to coronavirus and a drop in the number of foreign people traveling to Australia for work. The country's unemployment rate fell to 3.4% as companies snapped up workers.

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