Asia Minute: Loosening Some Restrictions in Southeast Asia
The Safe Access Oahu program requiring vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test starts a week from Monday. Other counties are considering steps to slow the spread—but in Southeast Asia, two major economies are starting to ease some restrictions.
Thailand’s government says new COVID-19 cases have fallen “significantly” each day for more than two weeks.
Restrictions are loosening in parts of the country — including Bangkok — where, for example, some restaurants can now go to 75% capacity for indoor dining.
In Indonesia, schools reopened this week on the country’s most populous island of Java — with classroom size cut in half.
In Jakarta and some other parts of Java, factories can operate at 100-percent capacity. Shopping malls can stay open until 9 at night, and those malls and restaurants can operate at half their capacity.
Indonesian officials say the number of daily new cases has tumbled by about 90-percent since the middle of July.
For both Indonesia and Thailand, vaccination rates are higher in both capital cities, but remain very low elsewhere.
Reuters reports that nationwide, only about 17% of Indonesia’s population is fully vaccinated — for Thailand, that national figure is 11%.
Easing restrictions amid those conditions in the two largest economies in Southeast Asia concerns many local health officials.
Critics warn that both countries could face further outbreaks sparking wider transmission among a population that remains largely unvaccinated.