Online Media Briefing by the Seoul Metropolitan Government on April 8
<Intensive “Social Distancing,” a Battle between Life and Death!>
Though the rate of COVID-19 infections has decreased to below 50 a day nationwide, the state of the capital area is still at risk. The city is doing its best to prevent infection, but no one can be sure when and where new infections might occur.
The entire country, including the city of Seoul, has been under intensive “social distancing” for over a month. The declining number of new confirmed cases proves the effectiveness of the campaign. Nevertheless, we should not let our guards down. Intensive “social distancing,” or taking a break, is a battle between life and death battle to end the war against COVID-19. Unfortunately, however, there has constantly been new cases that arise due to individuals not abiding by the “social distancing” rule.
First, people coming to South Korea from foreign countries are concentrated in the capital area, and although they are all required to self-isolate and get tested for the virus, we continue to see individuals who violate the rules. Just one or two of these individuals can cause collective infections. I would like to please ask every individual who is coming to Seoul from overseas, “Please, take a break for two weeks.”
<Prohibition on Large Gatherings in Entertainment Venues, including Those Operating in Gangnam>
Second, I understand the public might be fed up with “social distancing,” but we still must keep our guard up. More specifically, I would like to ask young people to refrain from behaving recklessly and in ways that might end up leading our community into a crisis. The recent occurrence of confirmed cases related to an entertainment venue in Gangnam has led to heightened concern.
Therefore, Seoul has decided to declare a prohibition order on mass gatherings in 422 entertainment venues – hostess bars, clubs, and colatecs (seniors’ clubs) – during the period of social distancing that was set by the central government, starting from today and going until April 19. This will automatically lead to the suspension of the operation of such entertainment venues.
Third, I am well aware of the fatigue from which citizens are suffering due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation. It seems that the accumulated exhaustion is reflected in the increasing number of passengers on public transportation and the rising amount of automobile traffic in the first week of April compared to the first week of March. Last weekend, in particular, car traffic increased by 12%. As we can see, constant exhaustion tends to loosen public alert and consequently leads to relaxed social distancing.
However, it is too early to let our guard down. Spring has sprung, and I fully understand how you feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Please be patient for just a little longer. I, too, feel sorry to speak these words.
Seoul will always be on the front line in this battle against COVID-19.
The vaccine for the city of Seoul is its unwavering citizens. Thank you.