Covid-19 makes life more difficult second time around: businesses

By Ha Tuan, Thu Dong   August 9, 2020 | 12:18 am PT
Covid-19 makes life more difficult second time around: businesses
Buses are parked in Hai Chau District, Da Nang City on July 28, 2020 as authorities order a citywide social distancing campaign amid rising number of Covid-19 cases. Photo by VnExpress.
The resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Vietnam is proving even more challenging than the first wave, with surging community transmission and deaths, business leaders say.

Ho Huy, chairman of leading taxi firm Mai Linh, said that the rising number of coronavirus cases have reduced travel demand and dragged the company’s revenue down by 30 percent from before the second wave.

Mai Linh has now temporarily ceased operations in Da Nang City and Hoi An Town, the country's coronavirus hotspots. Its revenue in these localities and in some other tourist destinations like Nha Trang and Da Lat have dropped by up to 50 percent from earlier.

"We have survived the first wave, but the second wave will bring even more challenges," Huy added.

Since July 25, Vietnam has recorded 355 domestic Covid-19 cases in 13 localities, all linked to Da Nang, a top tourist attraction. The first case confirmed on July 25 ended the country's 99-day streak without a case of community transmission.

Huy said if the pandemic situation worsens, even companies with deep pockets cannot last for more than six months, and for small companies, the likely threshold is three months.

Le Tien Truong, CEO of leading textile and garment company Vinatex, said that his company has been directly affected by the second wave because of quarantines.

Its subsidiary in Da Nang City has seen 200 employees quarantined, and the figure has been rising by an average 20 per day, while orders need to be fulfilled on time.

"It was already difficult to secure orders to maintain jobs for our workers, but now that we have some orders, we don’t have staff because of the outbreak," Truong said.

Jonathan Hanh Nguyen, chairman of the Imex Pan Pacific Group (IPPG) that has interests in the retail and food & beverage sectors, said without elaborating that the second wave has had bigger impacts due to the rising number of deaths.

Vietnam has confirmed 10 Covid-19 deaths as of Sunday, with several other patients in critical condition.

Several business leaders also said, however, that companies should not go into "hibernation" despite many challenges.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of leading tourism company Vietravel, said that leaving the market will make it almost impossible to come back. Companies need to do all they can to survive and to keep their brands alive, otherwise they will have no chance when the situation improves, he said.

Truong Gia Binh, chairman of tech giant FPT, said that businesses must continue to run sales and keep manufacturing going to ensure jobs for workers.

Small companies could join forces to survive the difficult time, which is also an opportunity to review and improve their business to become more competitive, he added.

Most business leaders have proposed that the government makes quicker, more drastic decisions this time to revive the economy with tax breaks, lower interest rates and policies to boost lending.

Vietnam has confirmed 812 Covid-19 cases so far, 407 of them active.

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