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Southeast Asia nations extend lockdown

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SINGAPORE, 28 April 2020: Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have all extended their lockdowns while Vietnam eased restrictions in a move to revive the economy and tourism.

Late last week Malaysia announced its “movement control order” would extend until 12 May while Thailand announced, Monday, its “emergency decree” would now extend to 31 May. A  strict curfew also continues from 2200 to 0400 in Thailand.

The emergency decree shuts down all entertainment, restaurants and even hairdressers. Shopping malls remain closed except for supermarket zones and food halls where vendors can sell only takeaway food. The emergency decree that came into effect 26 March rolled out a ban on alcohol sales first in Bangkok and then in the provinces.

In a move that will disappoint the country’s travel industry, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced 27 April that the international flight ban due to expire 30 April has now been extended until 31 May.

Some domestic flights will resume 1 May while Thailand’s low-cost airlines pencilled 1 June as the target date to resume international flights. Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways are planning to resume international services on 25 October.

Last week, Singapore extended its lockdown or “circuit-breaker” measures until 1 June as new cases reached 800 to 1,000 a day.

Vietnam turns out to be a winner after it became the first ASEAN nation to ease its “soft lockdown” measures 22 April.

Some restrictions remain in high-risk areas, but Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are taking the first steps with hotels and restaurants reopening. They must comply with strict public health guidelines, but the softer approach is seen as a sign that Vietnam could be over the worst. Domestic airline services increased last week between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. Airlines are preparing to add some regional flights first to Ho Chi Minh City. However, some restrictions remain in place for bars, clubs, spas, theatres and sports centres. Gatherings of more than 20 people are prohibited.

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