“Return to normal” Okinawa Prefecture lifts restrictions, returns to coronavirus alert level 1

“Return to normal” Okinawa Prefecture lifts restrictions, returns to coronavirus alert level 1

Okinawa Prefectural Government Building

November 26, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


On November 25, the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters of Okinawa held a meeting and, in light of the improved situation in the prefecture, lowered the coronavirus alert level to level 1 for the first time since July 2020. As a result of an early reevaluation of the current response plan, which originally extended through the end of November, the group lifted restrictions on communal dining, such as the four-attendee and two-hour limits. On the condition that an infection prevention and safety plan is submitted to the prefecture, restrictions on numbers of participants at events have also been lifted. The meeting highlighted a “return to normal”.


Until now, the prefecture has published a “response plan” for a set period, summarizing measures to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. However, at this meeting, the response team changed the name to a “baseline plan” and did not specify the effective period. While the restrictions on the length of time for dining together have been lifted, prefectural representatives ask Okinawans to refrain from activities involving increased risk of infection such as dining with large groups or for long periods of time. They also ask that large gatherings be held only among fully vaccinated individuals or individuals with a negative covid test.


Previously, events with at least 5000 attendees were required to limit attendance to half the capacity of the venue. However, on the condition that the organizers submit a plan to the prefecture that includes thorough measures to prevent airborne spread of the virus and to enforce hand sanitizing, full-capacity events will now be allowed. Half-capacity restrictions will continue to apply to events where there will be continuous use of loud voices.


The team also shared alert guidelines in case of future increases in infections, including plans to issue warnings at the municipal or health center level if new infections in the area surpass 25 per 100,000 people in a single week. In areas subject to such a warning, communal dining will be restricted to no more than four people, for no longer than two hours.


With Coming-of-Age ceremonies and the like approaching, the prefectural government asks local governments to encourage attendees to get vaccinated and get a PCR test before events.


At the meeting, Okinawa’s Chief Medical and Health Officer, Toru Itokazu said “We are asking Okinawans for their continued cooperation so that we can maintain the current improved situation.”


(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)


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