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Asia virus latest: India curbs foreign takeovers; Japanese tulips snipped

AFP – Here are the latest developments in Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

– India curbs ‘opportunistic takeovers’ of firms –

India has increased restrictions on direct foreign investment to curb “opportunistic” takeovers and acquisitions of Indian companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade ministry said.

Under the new policy released Saturday, foreign investors that share land borders with India — including China — will only be allowed to invest in the country with government approval.

The previous policy restricted the need for government approval for investments from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The nations that share a land border with India apart from Bangladesh and Pakistan are China, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

– Sri Lankan bans some imports –

Sri Lanka banned a wide range of imports Sunday as the local currency is hammered by a month-long lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-month ban on imports will apply to essential raw materials used by local industries, as well as luxury goods — including cosmetics, chocolates and foreign liquor — a government notice said Sunday.

The Sri Lanka rupee has lost nearly 10 percent of its value against the US dollar in the past two months as tourism — a key foreign exchange earner for the country — has collapsed, and a sharp fall in expatriate worker remittances.

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In March, the government banned the import of cars and luxury vehicles for three months as part of efforts to save foreign reserves, as authorities urged international lenders for a debt repayment moratorium.

– Sri Lanka eases lockdown –

Sri Lanka will lift a month-long curfew from Monday, easing a lockdown that had helped contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The 24-hour indefinite curfew in 19 out of the 25 districts will be removed at dawn on Monday, replaced by a nine-hour night curfew (8.00 pm to 5.00 am), President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said Saturday.

“The curfews could be eased because of the progress in containing the spread of the virus,” the statement said.

Six districts, including Colombo, will see lockdown measures relaxed from Wednesday, but night curfews will be imposed until further notice.

A ban on public meetings, religious gatherings and processions will remain, with schools and universities still closed until further notice.

– South Korea baseball resumes –

No-spectator matches for outdoor sports such as baseball will resume, South Korea said Sunday, as the country sees a steady decline in new coronavirus cases.

The outbreak had forced sports leagues to either suspend play or delay the start of their seasons.

But the Korea Baseball Organisation has scheduled 20 pre-season games beginning next Tuesday, when it is expected to announce dates for the regular season sometime in early May.

“For outdoor facilities like professional baseball where close contact is possible, limited permission will be granted to operate without spectators to prevent contact,” said health minister Park Neung-hoo.

South Korea reported eight new virus cases Saturday, taking the national total to 10,661, according to authorities.

– Tulips felled to prevent crowds –

Authorities snipped almost one million blooming tulips in eastern Japan to stop crowds gathering at a cancelled annual flower festival.

Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus prompted officials to cancel Chiba prefecture’s annual Sakura Tulip Festa — which usually draws hundreds of thousands.

But crowds still gathered to see the flowers, Sakura City Tourism Association said, leading to them beheading roughly 800,000 flowers.

Japan expanded a state of emergency nationwide to stem the growing spread of the disease, but the measures have no legal force and are weakly enforced compared to elsewhere in the world.