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Asia Minute: Different Approaches to Influencing Behavior

AP Photo/Vincent Yu

As countries around the world continue to struggle to contain the coronavirus, many in the Asia Pacific are taking specific steps to shape public behavior. These are short of complete shutdowns, but aimed at activities that have been linked with the spread of the virus.

Several Asian locations hit by spikes in COVID cases are taking short, sharp and very targeted responses to influence the behavior of residents.

So for example in the greater Seoul area, bars and restaurants are still allowed to operate, but bars and clubs that allow dancing were shut down this week — in part because enforcement of physical distancing at those places is not realistic.

Bars and restaurants need to close by 9 p.m. But as one response, the JoongAng Daily reports some bars are legally shifting their opening hours starting earlier.

And private tutoring enterprises called cram schools are allowed to stay open past 9pm as long as they keep students a little more than 9 feet apart — at least 2.8 meters.

In Hong Kong, bars and nightclubs will be closed again starting tomorrow, but just for a week. It’s the third cycle of closings and planned re-openings — they were closed in April, re-opened in May and closed from July to September.

While many business people have complained about the uncertainty, authorities say their decisions are driven by case data.

And that travel bubble that was set to get underway between Hong Kong and Singapore?

Plans to allow non-quarantine travel between the two cities have been postponed — for at least another couple of weeks.

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