Southeast Asian countries start easing COVID-19 restrictions

Bangkok, May 3 (efe-epa).- Thailand on Sunday eased some of the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 by opening businesses and parks, while Malaysia and Singapore will begin the gradual opening of curbs from Monday and Tuesday respectively.

On Sunday morning, residents were e seen jogging, exercising or walking with their children in some Bangkok parks on the first day of reopening since Apr. 2, when the government shut down all public places.

After more than a month of a temporary “prohibition”, capital residents also went out to the supermarkets to buy alcohol, as sales had been banned since Apr. 10.

The obligatory shutdown of small shops, pet shops, hairdressing saloons and restaurants was also lifted from Sunday, although consuming alcohol in public establishments continues to be prohibited.

Thailand, which has reported around 2,900 cases and 54 deaths due to COVID-19, has maintained other restrictions such as a curfew between 10 pm and 4 am, closure of shopping malls, and a near complete suspension of international flights and travel.

Malaysian authorities have announced that from Monday they would allow the opening of most businesses and shops, although public transport will operated at half-capacity to prevent crowding.

The government has cited economic reasons for lifting the restrictions, but a section of the citizens have opposed the decision and an online petition on the website against the easing of lockdown has gathered more than 450,000 signatures.

Along with the Philippines (over 8,900 cases, 603 deaths), Malaysia (6,100 cases, 103 deaths) is among the Southeast Asian countries to have implemented the strictest lockdowns.

Singapore, where the coronavirus has infected more than 17,000 people and killed 17, will allow from Tuesday onwards the opening of Chinese traditional medicine clinics and sports activities in the common areas of the residential complexes, although swimming pools and gyms would remain closed.

Small businesses such as grocery shops, food stalls, barbershops and laundries will open from May 12.

Meanwhile, China on Sunday said two new cases were detected for Saturday, up from one the day before.

One case was imported and the other is local, the health authorities said. With this, the number of confirmed cases in China has reached 82,877. The death toll remains at 4,633. EFE-EPA


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