Mixed bag for HCMC businesses on reopening

By Vien Thong, Tat Dat   October 1, 2021 | 05:00 pm PT
Mixed bag for HCMC businesses on reopening
A barber works at a babershop in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City in February. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
HCMC business owners are excited about the idea of reopening after months of closure but concerned about a likely lack of demand and workers.

"Not just 30Shine, I believe all HCMC residents and businesses are very excited about reopening," Bui Quang Hung, marketing director of the barber shop chain, said as it reopened Friday after three months.

All employees at all its 40 outlets in the city have been vaccinated and would be regularly tested, he said.

HCMC resumed most activities Friday after over four months of different levels of social distancing mandates. With barriers and checkpoints removed, businesses started opening with safety measures in place.

Fitness center chain CitiGym reopened Friday but only allowed members who have been fully vaccinated or contracted and recovered from Covid-19.

Members also have to report their travel history and can only train for 60 minutes.

California Fitness & Yoga is set to reopen next Monday and will allow a maximum of 100 members at a time. They can train for 90 minutes.

The reopening of gyms is very good news for the city, Dane Fort, CEO of FLG Vietnam, which owns the chain, said.

Lawyer Lu Thi Bach Linh said she is excited her office in District 1 would reopen next week.

"The resumption of law firms is very necessary since there will be a surge in conflicts over real estate lease contracts."

Most activities would however still be conducted online, she added.

But some business owners are concerned about possible difficulties to begin with.

Dylan Hoang Nguyen, owner of Look Good Naked Fitness Studio, said students are cutting down expenses and so he might have to consider lowering membership rates.

"A large number of potential members have become acquainted with self-training at home and therefore growth in number of new members could be slow."

Nguyen Thi Thao Nguyen, owner of Aya Helen's Nail Bar and Eyelashes, said she is happy but also worried since people could cut spending on beauty services.

"My plan is to adjust the service in order not to worry customers about prices."

Women’s fashion chain OLV, which has nine outlets in HCMC, will focus on online services since CEO Nguyen Bich Tram wants to lower spending.

She is also worried about a labor shortage since it is difficult to find fully vaccinated workers.

Pet Mart, whose 12 outlets in HCMC offer goods and services for pets, has only 30 percent of its employees returning to work.

A spokesperson explained that many are worried about contracting Covid while some have not been able to return from their hometowns.

"It could take three months for operations to stabilize. Our stores might have to close due to lack of employees".

The chain wants the city to have consistent regulations: some local authorities have not allowed it stores to reopen while others have.

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