Business & Economy

Thailand, Malaysia ease lockdown as COVID-19 spread slows

Bangkok Desk, May 4 (efe-epa).- Life regained a marginal sense of normalcy Monday as Malaysia and Thailand lifted certain restrictions imposed the curb the spread of COVID-19 in the countries, weeks after they were introduced.

Thailand allowed street vendors and some restaurants to reopen so long as they adhere to strict social distancing measures. New government orders allow people to dine in if they maintain an appropriate setting to avoid contagion.

Most businesses were also allowed to resume operations in Malaysia, though large gatherings are still forbidden in both countries. Travel restrictions are also still in place, with Thailand maintaining its ban on inbound international flights until May 31. Furthermore, Thai airports will only operate from 7 am to 7 pm, according to the government.

Though the measures do not represent a full return to normality, they are still welcomed as an economic incentive for businesses that have been shuttered since March, many of which have sustained insurmountable losses and had to lay off employees.

Malaysia also opened businesses such as shopping centers and restaurants, though social distancing measures continue in place along with temperature checks. The government has also continued to recommend that those who can continue working from home to avoid unnecessary contact with people. Schools remain closed and Interstate travel banned until further notice.

Most education centers also remained closed in Thailand, where the government has said it would re-evaluate the situation every two weeks and take action. Though working from home is not mandatory, the government recommends that citizens minimize contact with each other.

Official figures say there was a 40 perfect drop in tourism during the first quarter of 2020 in Thailand, and the country expects the next quarter to suffer a further setback. Popular tourist sites such as the Temple of Dawn or the Grand Palace have remained deserted for weeks and the government is it looking to create other sources of income during this time.

For its part, Malaysia says it has made a loss of $14.5 billion since the beginning of the lockdown.

Neither country has reported any new deaths from the disease for days, and both are certain that the projection curve for the virus’ spread has been flattened. EFE-EPA

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