Spotlight: Enterprises, people welcome "good old days" amid relaxing COVID-19 restrictions in Asia-Pacific

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 22, 2020
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HONG KONG, June 22 (Xinhua) -- "During the post COVID-19 recovery, when consumers pay more attention to how to keep fit and enhance immunity, our products will see a surge in the market need," said New Zealand honey factory owner John Qin.

After being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region for months, while the situation is still grim in some countries including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, some other countries have embraced a flattened curve of infected cases or no case at all after a long period of lockdown, and are more than eager to loosen the grip to revitalize their depressed economies.


As New Zealand's new COVID-19 cases become rare in recent days, it moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 1 at 11:59 p.m. local time on June 8, with life and economy back to normal except continuing to impose border controls.

"At Level 1 we become one of the most open economies in the world and now we must seize our advantage of going hard and early to beat COVID-19 and use the same focus and determination we applied to our health response to rebuild our economy," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Qin, a Chinese New Zealander who owns a honey factory in Auckland for more than 20 years, was relieved to hear the news. Every year, he exports high quality New Zealand honey products to the United States, Europe, China and Japan, except for this year, as his business has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, both in market demand and production.

"Honey is a seasonal output. We were in lockdown just when it was usually the busiest season. Therefore the production was impacted. Market demand also fell dramatically as the world went into quarantine mode," said John.

With the ease of restrictions, Qin sees light at the end of the tunnel. "Production and demand have just picked up recently," he explained. "Our business may not earn much profit this year. But I guess it will still slightly above breakeven."

Nevertheless, Qin is confident that his business will catch up the momentum quickly as there is an increasing demand from China for high quality and nutritious food products that New Zealand can fill the gap.

He is now busily preparing to work with Chinese big brands to explore online market opportunities for his products. "I feel positive to the future business forecast. That's why I'm investing in online marketing."


"Thank you so much for picking me up and taking me back to Colombo to work again. My family and I are so happy to earn a full salary." On June 12, Thalpege Ranjith Premadasa, an administrative manager of Tri-Zen Residential Development Project constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited, received several similar phone calls in the morning.

The Sri Lankan government started to impose a national curfew on March 20, closing down construction and suspending projects. Ranjith, along with his fellow workers, had to go back home and waited for further notice. "Many of my coworkers told me that without a job, they were facing heavy financial burden and hope to go back to work soon," he told Xinhua.

That's why when the Sri Lankan government decided to allow the capital of Colombo to gradually restore economic activities on May 11, Ranjith immediately returned to the company and made a plan to send out buses to Trincomalee, Kandy, Batticaloa and other places to pick up the workers back to Colombo.

On May 27, Ranjith, together with a few colleagues, fully equipped with masks, sanitizer, rubber gloves and infrared thermometers, embarked a seven-hour journey on a company bus to Trincomalee to get the workers.

After all the workers got their body temperatures taken, Ranjith distributed masks and gloves and went through the anti-COVID-19 protocol with the workers over and over again before they got on board the bus.

As soon as they arrived at the company, all workers had a nucleic acid testing. It was until results showed that all the workers tested negative for COVID-19, did Ranjith breathe a sigh of relief.

By now, more than 50 workers have been taken back to work in Colombo by the tailored bus service. For Ranjith, seeing the big smiles on the workers' faces makes him most happy.


On June 10, at a barbershop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a local resident who identified himself as Mr. Tee had his hair cut for the first time in three months. "I felt cool and refreshed," he said.

Tee said he was not concerned about the risk since the barbershop has followed the government's Standard Operating Procedure. "They have done the disinfection, have my temperature taken and put the disposable protective cloth on me, so I feel pretty safe," he said.

The barber, who identified himself as Raj, said more than 30 customers had come as of noon. "We have closed for a long time, so many people come today," he said, admitting that it is not easy to work with gloves and mask on.

Malaysia's barbershops and hair salons opened their doors to the public on June 10, the first time after nearly three months as the government is easing more restrictive measures against COVID-19.

Local media reported that some shops have been booked for two weeks and some major chains are receiving an overwhelming response.

However, both the customers and their hairstylists need to get used to the strict measures and conditions set by the Malaysian government to prevent a spike in new cases.

Barbers, hairstylists, and beauticians are required to wear face masks, face shields, and gloves. Customers are required to have their temperatures checked, their contacts recorded and put on face masks. Many barbers and beauty salons only provide haircut service for the moment.


March is the grape-picking season in south Australia, when COVID-19 restrictions were announced.

"We began harvesting fruit earlier than usual in 2020 and yields were down on average," said Jarrad White, founder of the Australian Premium Wine Group.

Then the lockdown came, forcing the vineyard to make certain adjustments to keep the vintage going, including social distancing among grape pickers, frequent disinfection of hand rails, pumps, control screens and other equipment, and asking employees to work at home.

On May 8, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a three-step plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions. With employees coming back to work and market demand recovering, White's business is gradually picking up and getting back to normal.

However, the two-month lockdown is not entirely bad news for the wine-maker. White's company learned to diversify sale channels to increase sale, such as online sales and delivery, phone call booking and joining retail apps.

It also paid more attention and gave support to its distributors via marketing strategies, financial aid and technical support to maintain loyalty.

"Most importantly, my company team learned to care each other and support each other during the hard days," said White.

He admitted that the company and its employees may face recession of incomes this year due to the COVID-10 pandemic and the lockdown, but "we believe our excellent quality, thoughtful service and consistent spirits will welcome the booming next year." Enditem

(Xinhua reporters Lu Huaiqian from Wellington, Tang Lu from Colombo, Bai Xu from Canberra, Lin Hao from Kuala Lumpur also contributed to the story.)

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