Business end of Covid protocols hampers firms in Covid hotspot Bac Ninh

By Gia Chinh   July 18, 2021 | 06:17 pm GMT+7
Business end of Covid protocols hampers firms in Covid hotspot Bac Ninh
Workers in a factory of northern Bac Ninh Province. Photo by VnExpress.
Although enterprises in Bac Ninh, home to major foreign manufacturing plants like Samsung and Canon, have resumed operations they are finding it difficult to follow specific Covid-19 protocols.

"Over 1,000 enterprises and more than 304,000 employees have returned to Bac Ninh to work, more than 90 percent compared to the time before the Covid-19 outbreak," said Bui Hoang Mai, head of the industrial and Export Processing Zones Authority.

He was speaking at a Saturday meeting held to address enterprises’ concerns. Over 180 enterprises with foreign-direct investment (FDI) took part in the meeting.

At the meeting, most enterprises expressed their wish that Bac Ninh allows workers outside the province to choose how they get to work, instead of forcing them to go together in a company vehicle. This arrangement is proving inconvenient and costly for the enterprises and the works, they said.

"My company has workers from Hanoi, but the workplace is only 1-2 km away from their current accommodation, so it is inconvenient to bring them to work by the company car when they can easily get there on their own. Can’t the province come up with a more convenient plan that benefits everyone?," asked a representative of consumer goods company Unilever Vietnam.

Answering the question, Mai said that the pandemic situation remained complicated, requiring workers to be ferried by company vehicles.

"If workers are allowed to go by motorbikes on their own, it will be difficult to track their travel history when they are infected and that can affect the business," he said, adding that this regulation might change in the coming days depending on the pandemic situation of the neighboring provinces.

The second concern expressed by enterprises was entry approval for foreign experts. They wanted the quarantine time after entry shortened. Nguyen Ha Long, a representative of hygiene product company Diana Unicharm, said that the company will install a new production line soon, so they needed experts to set it up and wanted the quarantine time reduced.

"According to current regulations, the experts must be quarantined in centers for 14 days, then at hotels for another 14 days before getting to work. Such a long time will affect the working schedule," Long said.

Vuong Quoc Tuan, Vice Chairman of Bac Ninh People's Committee said that from April to May, the pandemic situation was very complicated, the backlog of entry applications for experts was more than 300.

"Next week, the Industrial and Export Processing Zones Authority will make a list and officials of the People's Committee will work with the consulting team to consider all relevant factors such as the pandemic and procedures to resolve the backlog," Tuan said.

Vuong Quoc Tuan, Vice Chairman of Bac Ninh Peoples Committee. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh.

Vuong Quoc Tuan, Vice Chairman of Bac Ninh People's Committee. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh.

Regarding the plan to reduce the quarantine time, To Thi Mai Hoa, Director of the Department of Health, said she was preparing a plan for the provincial administration’s approval. Under this, after 14 days in quarantine centers, experts can go to work but must follow procedures strictly and ensure the number of tests required in the following 14 days.

The third concern for enterprises was having to arrange three meals a day for the employees, which they said was costly and time-consuming.

Officials of the Industrial and Export Processing Zones Authority said that this policy had helped Bac Ninh control the pandemic. Bac Ninh officials said workers were the main people who had to be protected so that production was not disrupted. Therefore, providing them with three meals a day at the factory had to continue, for now.

"By the end of September, each company will have to arrange a hostel of their own for the workers and avoid sharing accommodation space with other companies so that when new cases are detected, they can be easily traced and it will only affect one company," Tuan said.

Bac Ninh has so far recorded 1,687 Covid-19 cases since the new wave began in late April.

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