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Asia Minute: Uneven Regional Reopening

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Manila, Philippines

Tomorrow is the day when government leaders on Oahu could mark the island's movement to "tier two" — loosening certain restrictions on businesses and activities. Several governments in the Asia Pacific are considering what it will take to move to the next stages of their own gradual reopening.

Residents of the Philippines can start to make overseas travel plans again. The country's coronavirus task force just lifted a ban on international outbound travel that's been in effect since July.

Around the capital of Manila, city leaders are cautious about moving too quickly in lifting certain restrictions, but they're also anxious to help local businesses survive.

The balancing act has led to mixed recommendations.

This week, the Metro Manila Council recommended an extension of a "general community quarantine" until the end of the year. That means public transport still operates at reduced capacity, and it's a similar story with businesses from shopping malls to restaurants.

The council wants to help restaurants by easing a curfew — pushing it back to midnight to 4 a.m. instead of its current hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

In Singapore, government officials said this week that they could move to their third and final phase of reopening by the end of the year. The country moved from its initial phase this summer — based on a reduction in cases and relative success in controlling the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, the co-chair of the ministerial task force on COVID-19 warned that some restrictions may linger for more than a year — depending on developments both in the country and elsewhere in the region and the world.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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