TOKYO, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Japan eased entry restrictions into the country on Thursday for foreigners around the world put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, although entry is still being refused for tourists.

Those such as foreign medical professionals, teachers and others who are qualified for medium or long-term stays for three months or longer will be allowed entry, the government said, with those traveling for business purposes for less than three months also being eligible.

Eligible travelers will have to test negative for COVID-19 before entering and upon arrival in Japan, their sponsors, such as companies or organizations which support them, will be expected to ensure their self-isolation for 14 days, during which time they will not be allowed to use public transport.

The government had said it would consider permitting 1,000 foreigners into the country per day, mainly to accommodate those who intend to stay for three months or longer, while looking to increase the cap in the months ahead.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a recent meeting of the government's task force on the COVID-19 response that "to revitalize the economy, it is indispensable to resume international travel."

"We will start relaxing entry restrictions by looking at the situation of infections in each country and also considering the degree of need for travel," economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is also in charge of the response to the coronavirus, said recently.

Currently, people from 159 countries and territories are denied entry to the country, but Japan has steadily been easing its entry restrictions.

Foreigners with Japanese resident status who had been overseas have recently been allowed to re-enter the county, while expatriates and other long-term residents from some Asian countries have also been granted access to the country.

These include those from Vietnam, Thailand and seven other economies with which reciprocal agreements have been made.

The government has, more recently, made similar reciprocal agreements with Singapore and Brunei.

Japan's top two carriers, meanwhile, have and will also resume some routes between Japan and the Chinese mainland following eased restrictions by the Chinese authorities.

Up until recently, All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co. have been permitted to operate one route each between the countries.

Japan Airlines Co. has been allowed to fly between Narita airport near Tokyo and an airport in Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning province.

All Nippon Airways Co., meanwhile, has been permitted to operate a limited service between Narita and Shanghai.

From Wednesday, however, All Nippon Airways Co.'s service was expanded to include Qingdao in east China's Shandong province and Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong province, while Japan Airlines Co. will resume flights to Guangzhou from Oct. 2, the carriers said.

The eased restrictions will be a boon for business people as numerous Japanese firms operate in China which is Japan's largest trading partner.