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Coronavirus

ASEAN economies embrace proof of vaccine to contain delta risk

Singapore leads way with proof of COVID-19 jabs for restaurant dining and gym workouts

People walk through Singapore's Orchard Road shopping district. (Sipa via AP Images)

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA -- More Southeast Asian countries are using proof of coronavirus vaccination to help reopen their economies as the delta variant continues to drive new infections.

In Singapore, where 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated, vaccination checks have become a common sight at restaurant entrances. Vaccination records are sent to a government-developed app. Any group member who is not fully vaccinated cannot dine indoors, except for younger children not yet eligible to receive the shots.

With data showing that fully vaccinated people run a lower risk of becoming infected or developing serious cases of COVID-19, countries in the region see such measures as a way to balance containing the pandemic and restarting normal economic activity.

Rules are being eased in the U.S. and Europe as well, so Singapore should further relax its restrictions, said Vinod Ramaswamy while dining out with his wife.

Singapore introduced the reopening policy on Aug. 10, judging that there was sufficient public support for the measures now that vaccines are widely available to those wanting them.

A restaurant worker checks a customer's vaccination status in Singapore. (Photo by Takashi Nakano)

The easing allows vaccinated people to go to the gym and work out hard without a mask. The capacities of movie theaters and international convention centers were raised substantially, on the condition that all attendees are fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated residents continue to face tight restrictions on activities, with dining options limited to open-air food stalls.

In Malaysia, even regions with the toughest restrictions began to allow indoor dining for the fully vaccinated on Aug. 20. Other permitted activities include jogging, golfing and camping.

Indonesia said in early August that malls in Jakarta, Surabaya and two other cities could reopen to shoppers with proof of receiving at least one dose.

Indonesia and Malaysia, which continue to see high levels of new infections, also hope that the relaxed restrictions will encourage the unvaccinated to change their minds.

But Indonesia still suffers from a vaccine shortage -- one reason the vaccination rate is low there. Preferential treatment for the vaccinated could sow frustration among those lacking access to the jabs.

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