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Even as they struggle with one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, nations across Southeast Asia are slowly realizing that they can no longer afford the economy-crippling restrictions needed to squash it.

On the factory floors of Vietnam and Malaysia, in the barbershops of Manila or office towers of Singapore, regulators are pushing forward with plans to reopen, seeking to balance containing the virus with keeping people and money moving. That’s leading to a range of experiments including military-delivered food, sequestered workers, micro-lockdowns and vaccinated-only access to restaurants and offices.

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