Today, the Japanese government decided that the state of emergency in Kanagawa prefecture will end on September 30th.
In response to this decision, starting October 1st the City of Yokohama will accept new reservations to use public facilities and extend closing hours from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. From October 1st to 24th, alcohol service will only be permitted at facilities authorized by the prefecture until 8 p.m. Furthermore, city-organized and co-organized events will be asked to cap attendance at 10,000 people and must end by 9 p.m. Starting from October 4th, municipal schools will end rotating attendance and return to normal schedules.
After several extensions, this long State of Emergency lasted two months, and this is the first time restrictions have been fully lifted since April.
I am sure that many people were awaiting this decision. First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to residents and businesses for cooperating with preventive measures, and to medical workers who continue to dedicate their efforts to supporting the heavily burdened medical system.
During this fifth wave, Yokohama was heavily impacted by the Delta variant, and cases surged starting in late July. At one point in late August and early September, the occupancy rate of hospital beds for severe and moderate symptom patients surged towards 90%, and there were many patients that had to wait as Y-CERT arranged for their hospitalization. Although we were able to withstand this wave, there is a chance that cases will surge again in the future, and we cannot let our guard down.
The winter months when influenza starts to spread are approaching. Although vaccinations are progressing, there is a possibility that the virus will become more active during flu season. It is important to continue watching the case numbers. Furthermore, it is important to remember that breakthrough cases may occur in fully vaccinated individuals.
There is a possibility of a sixth wave occurring in the future. I hope this will not be the case. In order to keep the peak of a potential sixth wave as low as possible, it is crucial that residents, businesses, medical professionals, and the national and local governments all play their parts.
The City of Yokohama will continue to work on accelerating the vaccination rate and strengthening the medical system by improving care for patients recuperating at home and securing hospital beds in order to implement preventive measures that accommodate different age groups and lifestyles. Regarding the sharing of COVID-19 data, for the past month I have been working with the related departments in order to determine how to openly provide data in a way that is easy to understand, and we plan to share more information in the future.
To all department heads:
In order to prepare for a large rebound, please exhibit strong leadership and offer the support your subordinates need.
Whether at work or not, implement basic preventive measures, avoid actions that may increase the risk of infection, and ask the same of all of your subordinates.
Avoid outings to crowded places at peak times, and when you must go out, please do so with the smallest number of people possible. Please refrain from going out after 9 p.m.
As fall is a popular season for travelling, please take extra care to follow preventive measures when traveling between prefectures in order to avoid a rebound in cases.
From October 1st to 24th, authorized facilities may serve alcohol until 8 p.m., and must close by 9 p.m. Facilities that are not authorized may not serve alcohol and must close by 8 p.m.
Please continue implementing measures such as work from home, rotating shifts, and flex time to avoid crowded commutes and offices.
Requirements barring the serving of alcohol and mandating shortened hours for five months have taken a toll on businesses, especially restaurants. The City of Yokohama has provided financing support through its loan system and given financial support to projects to accommodate the pandemic to over 82,000 businesses.
We will continue our COVID-19 measures that aim to protect residents’ lives and livelihoods and revitalize Yokohama’s economy through collaboration with medical facilities, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the Japanese government.