To all academic and administrative staff at the University of Tokyo:
From the end of 2020 through the beginning of 2021, the number of people newly infected by the novel coronavirus in Tokyo grew to over 1,000 per day, and infections continue to spread in the municipalities throughout the Tokyo metropolitan area. In response to this situation, on January 7, the national government declared a state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area (Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa). Meanwhile, with regards to the University of Tokyo, although there have been no infections directly related to on-campus activities, the number of University members, particularly students, becoming infected is increasing rapidly. Also, the two months of January and February are marked by a series of significant academic events, including exams, thesis evaluations and university entrance examinations. In order for these events to be carried out safely, it is necessary to further strengthen infection prevention measures.
Upon taking a comprehensive account of this situation, we have decided to raise the level of The University of Tokyo Activity Restrictions Index for Preventing the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (first announced on April 3, 2020) to Level 1 starting on January 11. In accordance with the state of emergency declaration period, we will keep the Index at Level 1 at least through February 7. After assessing the situation again at that point, we will decide whether to lower, maintain or raise the level.
Under Level 1, we ask that you cooperate with the following restrictions:
- Research activities can be continued; however, while taking the utmost consideration to prevent the spread of infection, students, researchers and research staff (laboratory staff) must reduce the amount of time they stay on-site and, if possible, consider working from home.
- Please keep in-person meetings on campus to the absolute minimum.
- Classes will continue to be held online. However, experiments, training and exams that require in-person instruction will be allowed, provided that sufficient measures to prevent infection are taken.
- Students are prohibited from engaging in extracurricular activities. However, in cases where canceling activities is difficult, such as when students are already scheduled to participate in competitions, the Task Force may, upon discussion, grant students permission to engage in such activities.
- For those in administration, working from home and staggered commuting are strongly encouraged (under 60% working at the office). However, if one has important work that must be done at the office during the restriction period, coming to work is permitted as an exception, provided that sufficient measures to prevent infection are taken.
- When engaging in any of the aforementioned activities, if multiple individuals around you become ill, exercise caution and act quickly by stopping activities or taking other such measures, even if the symptoms shown by the individuals are not consistent with typical symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
Also, besides the activity restrictions listed above, please note that the Japanese government is restricting the new entry into Japan of foreign nationals from overseas. For details, please review the latest information released by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In addition to following these regulations, changes to your behavior are crucial. From cases so far, we have learned that much of the spread of infection comes from those with asymptomatic or mild cases of the novel coronavirus. The main means of infection transmission is through saliva, and the longer one has their mask off, and the more one speaks or otherwise vocalizes, the easier it is for infection to occur. Also, infections seem to happen if one is with an infected person for a long time in a closed space, even if they are wearing masks. Taking these facts into consideration, during the period of the state of emergency, we ask that you avoid eating, drinking, singing or doing other similar activities together with people who are not members of your household. Also, as infections can occur when taking off masks and speaking, please refrain from speaking when eating during lunchtime or breaks. Furthermore, in the case of infection, in order to prevent a series of infections from occurring, avoiding doing activities in large groups is considered to be effective.
As there have been no cases of infection due to activities on campus, and because we are raising the Activity Restrictions Index to Level 1, the UTokyo campuses are considered to be relatively safe. Therefore, it is possible to engage in on-campus activities while taking sufficient caution to prevent infection.
At Level 1, the Health Centers at Hongo, Komaba and Kashiwa are all still continuing to provide medical treatment. Necessary medical examination systems are also in place. They also welcome consultations by phone, so if you have any concerns, please contact them.
January 7, 2021
Executive Vice President
Head, UTokyo Coronavirus Task Force