Novel Coronavirus, Fukui Prefecture’s Request to Refrain from Outings
On April 14th, through a survey by Fukui Prefecture, it was discovered that the number of visitors to Fukui City’s downtown area (also known as “Katamachi”) and the area around JR Fukui Station has dropped by 60% during the first part of April, during a time when citizens have been asked to refrain from outings, in response to the continuous spread of the novel coronavirus, (COVID-19). During the day, visitors to Fukui City’s Owada area, which contains many of the city’s major business establishments and shopping centres, had decreased by 40%.
For the survey, the period of March 7th to the 13th (before the prefecture had any confirmed COVID-19) cases was compared with the period of April 4th to the 10th (after a number of confirmed cases). On April 3rd, Prefectural Governor Tatsuji Sugimoto requested the citizen of the prefecture to refrain from nonessential outings and gatherings during the weekends and the weekday evenings.
The survey used NTT Docomo’s statistical information, users’ mobile location data. When a smartphone or cellphone connects to a base station, the station receives the user’s location information; an estimate can then be made on the chances in population density within a designated area.
The hours observed for the study were 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for the Katamachi and Fukui Station areas, and 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the Owada area, where shoppers frequent. The survey then compared the numbers against the population density data between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., when people are considered to be at home, to create an estimate on the number of visitors to the areas within Fukui City.
The results displayed an especially large drop in visitors for the Katamachi and Fukui Station areas, with a 64.3% decrease in the Katamachi area, a 59.5% decrease in the Fukui Station area, and a 39.5% decrease in the Owada area. Fukui Prefecture assessed, “It is an effect from restaurants limiting its business, and of more people cooperating to refrain from nonessential outings and gatherings.”
“Through the cooperation of everyone within the prefecture, the situation is substantially being brought under control,” said governor Sugimoto, at a Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters conference on April 14th.