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Malaysia plans to reopen economy after lockdown

Stefania Palma in Singapore

Malaysia will reopen almost all economic sectors from May 4 as the south-east Asian country eases out of a coronavirus lockdown that started more than six weeks ago.

Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s prime minister, said in a national address that nearly all business activities would resume next week, except those involving large public gatherings such as theme parks, karaoke centres, and movie theatres as well as conferences and exhibitions.

Kuala Lumpur kicked off a national lockdown on March 18. Restrictions on travel were imposed as well as the closure of non-essential businesses and schools.

Bazaars for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will also remain closed after May 4.

Mr Muhyiddin added trips back to hometowns for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan, were prohibited, mirroring Indonesia’s ban on mudik, the annual mass migration that follows the fasting month.

But Indonesia is now ramping up health checks at the border as tens of thousands of migrant workers return home.

Authorities have selected specific entry points to welcome the returnees, with quarantine structures to house those showing coronavirus symptoms.

The coronavirus infection rate in Malaysia has slowed in recent days, with the country counting 6,002 cases and 102 deaths.

Indonesia has one of the highest mortality rates in the world with 10,118 cases and 792 deaths.

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