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Asia Minute: COVID restrictions are easing in several parts of Asia

Virus Outbreak South Korea Daily Life 041722
Lee Jin-man/AP
Christians wearing face masks attend an Easter service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

It’s been a little more than three weeks since Hawaiʻi became the last state in the country to lift its mask mandate. In several parts of Asia, restrictions are continuing to ease this week.

Daily life should get a little easier in Hong Kong this week.

Starting Tuesday, restaurants will be able to stay open until 10 at night, instead of closing at 6 p.m.

Small businesses from gyms to beauty parlors will be re-opened — and students will be back in school classrooms.

New cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong have dropped from more than 70,000 a day to fewer than 2,000.

New cases are also down in South Korea, where most social distancing requirements have been dropped starting Monday.

A midnight curfew will end — and so will restrictions on events like weddings.

One rule that’s remaining in place for the time being is wearing masks — even outdoors.

South Korea’s political transition may be one factor.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the transition team of the president-elect taking office next month told reporters “the government should be prudent over scrapping” the outdoor mask mandate.

In Japan, the government’s top coronavirus adviser says the panel he heads will soon come out with recommendations on any movement on restrictions in that country.

Kyodo News quotes Shigeru Omi as saying strict controls will likely not be needed.

Health officials do expect a spike in new cases after the national holidays known as Golden Week, starting at the end of the month.

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