An extension of social restrictions in the Greater Tangerang region of Banten province, Indonesia, the imposing of a 14-day lockdown in Philippines' Navotas, an easing on Malaysia's social gathering numbers, and more; these past few days have seen a range of COVID-19 updates around the region, as cities and provinces continue in their efforts to combat the ongoing pandemic.

In this article, you'll find recent COVID-19 updates to note in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as a separate update on the Indonesia-Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which took effect on 5 July.

Jump to each section for individual updates:

Malaysia: No more limit on gatherings for meetings and gatherings from 15 July

Starting tomorrow (15 July), there will no longer be a limit on the number of people who can attend business meetings, social gatherings, or prayer sessions in Malaysia.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced this at a press conference on Friday (10 July), stating that event organisers, wedding hosts and mosques will be allowed to determine the number of participants based on the size of the event space. That said, social distancing must still be practised.

As cited by The Star, he explained: "With the latest decision, we leave it to the organisers. For instance, if the banquet hall can fill up to 1,000 guests for a wedding, and if with social distancing in place, it can accommodate 800 people, then the event can be attended by the said number of guests.

"The same goes for those attending prayers at mosques and other places of worship. We are no longer limiting one-third of the prayer hall to be filled. Now, these places can take in more people provided there is social distancing among the congregation."


Thailand: Temporary immigration centre opens in Nonthaburi

A temporary immigration services centre has opened up in Muang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi province, to aid with congestion at the Immigration Bureau, The Bangkok Post reported. This comes as seek to extend their short stays, while the pandemic continues.

As stated by Pol Col Pakkapong Sai-ubon, Deputy Comander of Immigration Division 1, this new office is open for three services - 90-day place of residence reports, 24-hour reports on accommodation, and short-stay extensions. 

Further, Pol Maj Gen Piti Nithinonthaset, Commondaer of Immigration Division 1, added that this opening aligns with Immigration Bureau Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang's disease control policy, the report noted.

This new office was set up to control crowds, with many foreigners stuck and unable to return to their home countries amid airport closures.


Indonesia: Extension of social restrictions in Greater Tangerang, updates on worker exchange with Australia

The Greater Tangerang region of Banten, Indonesia will once again undergo a two-week lockdown, one which will last until 26 July.

Banten Governor Wahidin Halim announced this in a video conference yesterday (13 July), which he later shared in a Facebook post. Under this extension, certain restrictions related to activities with a low risk of transmission will be relaxed, while those with medium to high risks will remain limited.

For instance, Deputy Mayor of South Tangerang, Benyamin Davine, said exceptions include the reopening of places of worships as long as they adhere to the required health protocols, The Jakarta Post reported. 

Governor Wahidin Halim also noted that Banten's COVID-19 alert has moved down to the yellow zone, and is now in the 12th position nationally. In fact, cases in the province have also decreased over the past two weeks, as stated in The Jakarta Post. 

In separate news in the country, Indonesian workers in sectors such as healthcare, tourism, telecommunication and more will be eligible for a worker-exchange programme with Australia, as part of a bilateral agreement that came into force on 5 July.

Under the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), which was previously signed in 2019, Indonesian workers can receive up to six months of training and work experience in Australia, with the local government aiming for 100 workers to join in the first year. The number of participants is expected to increase to 500 within five years, The Jakarta Post reported.

According to the report, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said this was part of the country's benefits in human resource development from joining the IA-CEPA, along with a chance for local workers’ capabilities to be recognised by the Australian government and businesses.

The Indonesian government will be partnering the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Indonesian Employers Association, and the Indonesian-Australian Business Council in carrying out the programme.

Apart from the above, Minister Suparmanto also added that both countries had agreed to increase the number of working holiday visas, up from 1,000 to 4,100, The Jakarta Post noted. 


The Philippines: Navotas to undergo 14-day lockdown from 16 July

The city of Navotas, in Metropolitan Manila, will undergo a two-week lockdown effective 5am local time on 16 July (Thursday).

This comes as the community saw a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases since restrictions were loosened, Mayor Tobias Tiangco said in a Facebook post. In fact, he noted that as of yesterday (13 July), the city has reached a total of 981 confirmed cases.

Due to the continued increase in patients, community isolation facilities have been filled, while some hospitals in Metro Manila have also reached full capacity, he added.

Thus, he said: "We are hoping that through lockdown, we can slow the increase of cases in our city. Putting limits on people's movement can help prevent the spread of the deadly virus."

A brief of what should be noted of the lockdown measures, per an executive order issued by the mayor:

  • The lockdown will last from 5am on 16 July till 11:59pm on 29 July.
  • During this period, only Home Quarantine Pass (HQP) Holders shall be allowed to leave their households, and only on scheduled market days stated. They should only leave to purchase essentials such as food, medicines, and groceries. 
  • The HQP is non-transferrable, and it will be issued to only one person per household.
  • Essential workers of selected industries will be allowed to travel to the workplace and back home straight after work, but will have to present a valid company ID or certificate of employment. 
  • Essential workers will only be able to leave Navotas if their place of work is outside Navotas.
  • Non-Navotas residents will not be allowed to enter Navotas, unless they are employed by companies in Navotas that are allowed to operate, and their actual place of work is in Navotas.
  • Those living their residences must properly wear face masks pursuant to the City Ordinance No. 2020-21, maintain social distancing, and avoid grouping or crowding pursuant to City Ordinance No. 2020-23.

More details on the lockdown measures, industries allowed to operate, and more are shared in Mayor Tobias Tiangco's Facebook post below:


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