(May 22): The coronavirus recovery is in trouble before it even begins. As swiftly as the lockdowns across Asia were imposed, the process of lifting them will be slow and uneven. That means the region is months, if not years, away from any semblance of normal.

Plans for full and partial reopenings in Australia, Singapore and Thailand sound reasonable in theory, but they won’t deliver the hoped-for economic bounce. These countries, deeply reliant on trade and tourism, remain largely closed to the outside world. Domestic consumers, buffeted by layoffs and wage cuts, are in poor shape to pick up the slack. Bankruptcies in Singapore were climbing even before the most stringent virus-suppression efforts.  

In Australia, social engagements can resume and businesses can open their doors. Yet the country is bereft of foreign tourists, new international students and immigrants — and it was workers from abroad who helped drive the 28-year boom that preceded the pandemic. The lockdown has essentially set Australia back four decades, just before Paul Hogan starred in the “Crocodile Dundee” movies, as Bloomberg News's Michael Heath wrote. That era saw a boost in tourism and freer capital markets, with moves to float the local dollar and lower tariffs.

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