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Asia Minute: Pandemic Restrictions Extended Across Region

Pedestrians cast a shadow across an intersection crosswalk in Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 670 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

Several locations in the Asia Pacific are extending restrictions related to the continuing pandemic. But the extent and timing of those actions vary, but governments are taking a cautious approach.


Ten regions of Japan will be under a state of emergency at least through early March. The central government is extending guidelines first laid out in early January: restaurants closing by 8 p.m. — people asked to avoid “unnecessary outings.”

Restaurants and coffee shops in South Korea need to close by 9 p.m.under the extension of a national lockdown there. Gatherings of more than five people are banned, and restrictions will last at least another two weeks — through the Lunar New Year.

Malaysia is extending what it calls a “movement control order”that was set to expire tomorrow. Instead, the rules will continue for at least another two weeks — after the Health Ministry confirmed that new cases are continuing to rise in most of the country.

Hong Kong’s government is continuing certain restrictions through the Lunar New Year and into the following week. That includes a ban on more than two people gathering — while restaurants need to close by 6 p.m.

Hong Kong authorities are also locking down certain buildings and streets in neighborhoods facing outbreaks of Covid-19.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended the actions and the mandatory testing that follows — saying “every time we choose to seal off an area for tests, the decision is based on science.”

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