Seoul is now going through an unprecedented crisis.
There is nowhere to stand back anymore.
Seoul will stop after 9 PM effective Sat, Dec. 5, 2020.
The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Seoul as of midnight on Fri, Dec. 4, 2020 marked a total of 9,716 with an increase of 295 from the previous day. 167 patients were additionally confirmed from midnight to 2 PM today. Having almost 300 newly confirmed cases per day is the greatest we have faced since the outbreak of COVID-19. After we had over 200 new daily confirmed cases for the first time on Nov. 25, COVID-19 spread faster than wildfire.
We have been controlling the social distancing levels to save both quarantine measures and the lives of citizens, but the snowballing number of confirmed cases is telling us that the measures we have been taking are not enough to respond to this kind of crisis. The spread of the infectious disease has gone beyond certain facilities and reached many parts of our daily lives. It is also the season of university exams after the national college entrance exam as well as year-end and New Year’s gatherings, which is making us more vulnerable to mass infection.
To overcome the current crisis, the SMG has decided to stop Seoul after 9 PM.
This is a preemptive emergency measure to stop movements and activities apart from the bare minimum socio-economic activities required for citizens’ livelihood.
The SMG will turn the lights off in the city after 9 PM, when most socio-economic activities are over. This measure will be effective midnight on Sat, Dec. 5 for 2 weeks.
In addition to the measures of level 2 social distancing, such as prohibiting gatherings at entertainment facilities and restricting entry past 9 PM to priority management facilities, including restaurants, coffee shops, indoor sports facilities, gyms in apartment community centers; general management facilities, including commercial stores, movie theaters, Internet cafes, arcades, study rooms/cafes, amusement parks, barber shops/hair salons, supermarkets, department stores, etc. are all subject to suspend operations. However, to allow the purchase of daily necessities, supermarkets smaller than 300 m2 in size are permitted to operate as well as the delivery and taking out of food from restaurants.
In addition to the 2,036 study rooms and academic institutions, a total of 25,000 private academies and study rooms/cafes will also stop their operations past 9 PM. We will strongly recommend online classes even for those that are scheduled before 9 PM.
The SMG will take a step further and stop the operations, regardless of time, of 66 public cultural facilities run by local governments and government invested and/or funded organizations, including museums, galleries, performance halls, and libraries, as well as 114 adolescent facilities and 1,114 public sports facilities. However, social welfare facilities will partially maintain operation for providing necessary care. The SMG will request the central government to apply the same to national facilities.
The SMG will reduce nighttime operations of public transport as well. 30% of public transport will be reduced past 9 PM. City buses will be reduced starting tomorrow (Sat, Dec. 5), and subways will be reduced starting next week (Tue, Dec. 8). We are carefully discussing with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and KORAIL to have this reduced system applied in railways outside of Seoul. In emergency situations, service hours of last trains will be cut from 12 AM to 11 PM.
To disperse the population during commuting hours, the SMG along with 25 autonomous districts and 25 city-invested and/or funded organizations will have flexible working arrangements, including remote working, starting next week (Mon, Dec. 8). We also requested for the cooperation of Seoul Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the Korea Federation of SMEs to implement working from home and flexible working arrangements in the private sector.
The SMG also requests religious facilities to convert to online service and proceedings. We would like to thank the Buddhism, Won Buddhism, Cheondoism, and Sungkyunkwan communities who are already cooperating with us. We earnestly request Christian and Catholic churches to convert to online worship and mass. We must stop now to have a merry Christmas. We also request citizens to voluntarily cancel or postpone winter gatherings, club activities, and all sorts of get-togethers.
Next, let me brief you on hospital situations. As of 8 PM on Thu, Dec. 3, the beds of designated hospitals for treating infectious disease in Seoul and the Seoul metropolitan area are 79.8% and 71.2% occupied, respectively. 61 beds in Seoul are exclusively for severely ill patients. 53 of them are occupied, leaving 8 available beds. As for community treatment centers in Seoul, there are 7 centers with a total of 1,473 beds. 1,098 beds are occupied, leaving 93 beds that can be used immediately.
The SMG has been finding ways to increase the number of beds, but it will be inevitable to avoid a shortage of beds if this confirmation trend shall continue. The SMG will give our all in maintaining the public medical system. Next Monday, we will additionally designate Seoul Metropolitan Dongbu Hospital with 3 wards and 81 beds for treating general COVID-19 patients. By utilizing the infrastructure of Seoul Metropolitan Dongbu Hospital, we will secure an additional 107 regular beds. We will also install container structures in empty paces of the hospital to use as temporary treatment centers. We will install a total of 150 new temporary beds, starting with 48 beds in Seoul Medical Center on Thu, Dec. 10, followed by Seoul Medical Center branch hospital and Seobuk Hospital.
In addition to the 7 community treatment centers operated by the SMG, we will install community treatment centers in autonomous districts. Starting with Jongno-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu and Dongdaemun-gu, there will be a community treatment center in each of the 25 autonomous districts. Asymptomatic patients aged under 50 will be treated at the community treatment centers of autonomous districts, while asymptomatic or light-symptom patients aged 50 or more will be treated at the SMG’s community treatment centers. The SMG will do its best to avoid at-home quarantine treatment.
For the first time, Seoul is turning off its lights past 9 PM.
This is how crucial the situation is in Seoul.
The SMG has been seeking ways to mitigate restrictive disease control measures to allow for the economy to function without halting, considering the hardships of the self-employed and small business owners. However, now is the time when the safety and lives of citizens must be prioritized.
We made this decision before we face a greater crisis, being alerted that if we fail to stop the spread in the Seoul metropolitan area, the entire nation will no longer be safe from COVID-19.
Our goal is to reduce the number of daily confirmed cases to less than 100 people.
This is a difficult time, when citizens are forced to endure inconvenience, while self-employed workers and small business owners are bearing agonizing hardships. However, if the quarantine authorities and citizens become a team to realize a goal, we will soon eradicate COVID-19 and have our ordinary days back.
We endured this crisis with all of you.
Seoul citizens, self-employed workers and small business owners,
thank you for your continued cooperation for disease control and prevention.
|Details of Measures||Applicable Facilities|
|No gatherings and complete suspension of operations||<Existing facilities>
▴5 types of entertainment facilities (effective Nov. 24)
– Entertainment facilities such as clubs and room salons, karaoke bars, gamseong bars (old-fashioned pub), colatecs and pick-up bars
▴Indoor sports facilities with intense exercise, such as Zumba, Tae Bo, indoor cycling, aerobics, step exercise, and kickboxing (from Dec. 1)
▴Water parks (effective Dec. 1)
▴Fitness center in apartments, saunas, cafes, study rooms, etc. (effective Dec. 1)
▴Public facilities operated by the SMG, autonomous districts, and government invested and/or funded institutions
– Including public indoor and outdoor sports facilities, museums, art museums, libraries, and other cultural facilities and youth facilities
– Enforcement of closures of welfare facilities attended by seniors (elderly halls, day and night care centers)
※ Private operations, emergency care, and other special cases to be exempt
▴Culture centers and children’s play areas in markets and department stores
▴Indoor standing performance halls
|No gatherings after 9 PM
(Concentrated and regular facilities that are not subject to suspension of operations)
▴Karaokes (effective Nov. 24)
▴Restaurants (effective Nov. 24) ※ Take-out and delivery acceptable
▴Door-to-door sales and direct sales promotion halls (effective Nov. 24)
▴Indoor sports facilities (effective Nov. 24)
▴Arcades and multi rooms
▴Private academies (including training schools)
▴Job training centers
▴Study rooms and cafes
▴Amusement facilities (amusement parks)
▴Barber shops and beauty salons
▴Shops, markets, department stores larger than 300 ㎡
※Reduced operations of public transportation by 30% after 9 PM