NEWS Round-Up April 26-May 4

ASEAN, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, coronavirus

(Photo: Institut Pasteur)

CAMBODIA

Angkor Archeological Park attracted 384,317 foreign tourists in the first four months of 2020, down 60% over the same period last year, according to a government statement. Cambodia most famous historical site made gross revenues of nearly US$18 million from ticket sales during the same period, down 59% over the same period last year, revealed the state-owned Angkor Enterprise’s statement.
In April alone, the park received 654 foreigners which spent US$29,368 from ticket sales, down 99.65% and 99.64% respectively compared to the same month last year.

LAO PDR

Laos is relaxing lockdown rules step by step as the total number of COVID-19 cases remained at 19 people infected over the last 20 days, according to official statements from the government. From this coming Monday on May 4, the government is allowing the reopening of restaurants and shopping centres. Loosening restrictions will also apply to individual retail and service businesses such as beauty parlors and auto mechanics. Offices may reopen as well with rotating shifts of workers. Leisure spaces will meanwhile remain closed, such as bars, cinemas, massage parlors, indoor gyms and outdoor team sporting venues. Inter-provincial travel continues to be banned while international borders are still closed. People will need also to keep social distancing and wear face masks in public places. These new rules will be in place for two weeks through May 17, but a total lockdown could again be implemented if new infections are detected in at least two provinces.

MALAYSIA

Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) will offer free online course to all tourist guides who intend to renew their licences. Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Musa Yusof explained that the course will help tourist guides to better assess the new tourism normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic and how new health rules will influence the way tourist guides will conduct their work. However, the mechanism for the course and when it will begin have yet to be decided as it involved various parties, including the Tourism Training Institute and tour guide association.

(Source: Bernama)

PHILIPPINES

The government is once again extending its ban on all passengers flights for another week to contain the spread of the coronavirus and help reduce pressure on quarantine facilities housing thousands of Filipino repatriates, officials said on Sunday.

“This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of Covid-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers are well taken care of when they arrive from abroad”, the task force said in a statement. The Philippines introduced curbs on immigration, travel, commerce and public gatherings in mid-March, days after the first case of domestic transmission. The temporary ban on incoming air travel covers nine international airports, including Manila, Cebu, Clark or Davao.

SINGAPORE

Singapore Airlines has extended its flight cancellations until the end of June but some 800 cabin crew from the Singapore national airline aare currently applying their professional skills to alternative roles, helping Singapore’s fight against the COVID-19, according to the Straits Times.

The SIA Group has committed to provide at least 300 care ambassadors, 500 transport ambassadors and 150 contact tracing ambassadors, and continues to work with other organisations to explore other avenues where its employees can help, said an SIA spokesman.

Senior Vice-President of Human Resources Vanessa Ng said: “We are very proud of our cabin crew, who have stepped forward to support Singapore’s front-liners on several fronts. The spirit of giving back to the community runs high in the SIA culture, as shown in the many ways in which our people have risen to the occasion during this challenging time. We are in this together with the rest of Singapore as we battle to overcome Covid-19.”

Among these 800 crews, many are turning into care ambassadors in hospitals and transport ambassadors at public transport hubs, the cabin crew put to use their relevant skills in communication and service. In the article, Singapore national newspaper tells about flight attendant Sarah Liew, 23, who is working as a transport ambassador for about a month. “I advise the general public to adhere to the safe distancing measures and I help in crowd control. In this role, not only do I ensure the safety of the commuters, I also help to advise the fastest and most comfortable route to get to their destination,” she said.

For inflight manager Irvin Ignatius Selvam, 48, deployment as a contact tracing ambassador lets him exercise the empathy and politeness which he has cultivated in his 25 years with SIA. Mr Selvam said that he had been looking out for avenues where he could assist and contribute his time to help out in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. He was thankful when this role came up, which was in line with what he was looking for.

THAILAND

Thailand’s businesses and venues reopen with strict health and safety guidelines announced on Sunday the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The government has allowed relaxation of containment restrictions for 10 clusters of businesses and venues since May 3, 2020. The sale of food and drinks in hotels, airports, train stations, bus stations, hospitals, restaurants and beverage shops, convenience stores, and street stalls is allowed. Pubs and bars can open, for take-home services or under strict health guidelines. Alcohol consumption must however be at home and gatherings are not allowed.

Shopping malls, department stores, community malls can still only open supermarkets, pharmacies, necessity items for daily life, banks, government and state enterprise services. Restaurants and food outlets can open but only take-home service is allowed.

Retail shops, wholesalers, markets, floating markets and flea markets can open with strict health guidelines. Hairdressers and barbers can reopen for limited services and by appointment only.

Hospitals, clinics, dental clinics and all healthcare facilities can open, except for cosmetic clinics. Golf courses and driving ranges as well as outdoor sport facilities – specifically for tennis courts, horse riding tracks, shooting ranges and archery ranges – can open, but no gatherings or competitions. Public parks can open for individual outdoor activities including running, walking, cycling or individual physical exercise.

The Department of Health has issued five key measures such as cleaning, wearing masks, provision of hand washing stations, physical distancing, and limiting the number of people. Additional measures are temperature screening, reducing time spent in close contact, one metre spacing for queuing, increasing ventilation. The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reiterated that collaboration from the public is key. Decisions to move to subsequent phases of re-opening will depend number of new cases and number of people violating curfew.