Asia - Pacific

Asia-Pacific nations make cautious return to normalcy

Restrictions ease, businesses partially resume despite rise in coronavirus cases in few countries

Riyaz ul Khaliq  | 11.05.2020 - Update : 12.05.2020
Asia-Pacific nations make cautious return to normalcy


Under containment for almost two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are aiming to get back to work.

Hence, they have started easing the restrictions, and resumed economic activity.


Following more than a month-long lockdown, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan announced ease in restrictions starting May 9.

Standalone shops, small markets, and construction industries have reopened.

The Khan-led government allocated $900 million to deliver emergency cash to the extremely poor as part of Ehsaas, the country's largest poverty alleviation program.


Home to second largest population in the world, India imposed a strict lockdown on March 24.

The overnight curfew left millions of migrant workers stranded without money, food or shelter.

The lockdown was extended for two weeks on May 2.

However, now the Narendra Modi-led Hindu nationalist government has allowed health, agricultural, financial and public utility services to resume operations on a limited scale.

New Zealand

New Zealand has resumed everyday activities, including schools and businesses, but with social distancing in place.

Gatherings of up to 10 people have been allowed at home, cafes and restaurants, weddings or funerals.


Australia's National Cabinet finalized on May 8 a three-step plan to "gradually remove baseline restrictions and make Australia COVID-safe."

While phase 1 allows gatherings of up to 10 people, and some local and regional travel, the next steps build on this including the resumption of gyms, entertainment venues, and international travel.

South Korea

After controlling the virus spread through social distancing and rigorous testing, South Korea eased social distancing on May 6.

It also decided to open schools from May 11. However, dozens of new infections linked to nightclubs have sparked fears of a second wave of the outbreak.


Thailand declared state of emergency in the last week of March.

After witnessing a slowdown in infections, it returned to "cautious normalcy" from May 3 by allowing businesses including markets, restaurants and cafes, and hair salons to open.


With no reported deaths due to the coronavirus, Vietnam in the first week of May allowed all non-essential services except for clubs and karaoke bars to resume operations.


Taiwan did not impose a lockdown, however, people were bound to follow social distancing.

Early screening of arriving travelers, border closures, and thorough contact tracing helped contain the virus.

Hong Kong

The specially administered region of Hong Kong relaxed restrictions on May 8 after the Chinese territory largely halted local transmission of the disease.

Schools, cinemas, bars and beauty parlors have reopened.


Malaysia imposed what it called as “Movement Control Order” from March 18.

It shuttered businesses and schools, stopped people from congregating at religious, and other gatherings, and restricted travel.

From May 4, however, the country's premier softened the measures, allowing a range of businesses to reopen with strict distancing regulations.

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