Quarantine rules leave enterprises in distress

By Phuong Anh, Giang Chinh   July 26, 2021 | 11:02 am GMT+7
A rule requiring those coming from or having passed through Hanoi to be quarantined has made companies in Hai Phong worried about maintaining their supply chain.

Hai Phong, the main gateway for import and export in Vietnam's northern region, has imposed a 14-day centralized quarantine for those coming from or having passed through Hanoi starting July 24.

The Private Economic Development Research Board under the Government's Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform said the regulation places massive pressure on transportation between Hanoi and Hai Phong, an essential link in the supply chain in which truck drivers play a key role.

A business owner told VnExpress that their management board held a meeting right after the regulation took effect Saturday, but could not find a solution to transport their goods from a factory in Hanoi's Ba Vi District to Hai Phong Port.

They have two containers scheduled to leave for the U.S. early next week.

"The transport partner heard that the drivers will be placed under quarantine for 14 days if they travel from Hanoi, so they are scared. Delivering a shipment and being unable to earn (in two weeks), who will dare do that."

A Covid checkpoint near Hai Phong gateway. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Chinh.

A Covid checkpoint near Hai Phong gateway. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Chinh.

Transport firms are also concerned about the impacts of the new rules. Nguyen Minh Trang, Director of Delta Transport Co., Ltd, said her firm was waiting to see whether local authorities will change the regulation.

"The rule has left a lot of people confused, some transport firms have refused transporting goods through Hanoi."

A report by the Private Economic Development Research Board says some firms have thought about changing drivers or dividing the trucks’ routes, but not all firms have enough drivers to take turns to do this.

Transferring goods to a new truck is also impossible for many products since it requires special equipment to do so.

Hai Phong has left a door open for businesses, saying Hanoi arrivals having negative PCR test results approved by "facilities that are authorized to do the Covid tests in Hanoi" can be allowed to enter, but on a case by case basis.

This door is not open wide enough, the board said, because the test is not easy to get and it would take people 1.5 days to get the result.

After gathering opinions from local firms the board made some recommendations to the Hai Phong administration Sunday.

First, they said the city should consider applying the rules imposed during the third Covid outbreak earlier this year: Drivers from Covid hotspot should stay in accommodation provided by the transport firms, and they are not allowed to go home or travel anywhere. Some companies have prepared for this and can immediately meet this requirement.

Secondly, firms not having accommodation for their drivers or those having only one or two drivers can work with the local department of transportation and related parties to seek quarantine facilities. Enterprises are required to follow Covid-19 prevention rules strictly.

Drivers from Hanoi and other Covid hotspots traveling to Hai Phong are also required to avoid contact with other people by sitting in their trucks while waiting for their goods.

While waiting for the northern port city to issue new regulations, the firm mentioned earlier plans to transfer their goods out of Hanoi before taking them to Hai Phong.

"We are asking our friends to find warehouses, and we will need to have suitable equipment for loading and unloading the goods," the businessman said, the exercise will cost the company an additional VND20 million ($869.64) per container.

If the goods cannot reach Hai Phong Port on time, the company will have to cancel the shipment and lose their deposit.

"Losing money is a problem, but hiring another ship is an even bigger deal because sea transportation is not easy at the moment."

Le Khac Nam, deputy chairman of Hai Phong, told VnExpress Sunday afternoon that the city does not require drivers transporting imported and exported goods from Hanoi to be under centralized quarantine, but they need to have tested negative for the virus.

Besides, vehicles will be checked at the Hai Phong Port or the warehouse. Those without the access badge will have to make health declarations at checkpoints.

The fact that some provinces and cities were applying excessively strict Covid measures was also mentioned in National Assembly discussions Sunday.

"The country is like a living body with close circulatory relationships, so we cannot cut a part if it is sick. We have to quarantine people without causing economic disruption," said Nguyen Thi Thuy, a standing member of the National Assembly's Judicial Committee.

Earlier this year, Hai Phong stopped receiving people and goods from neighboring Hai Duong Province as it was undergoing a social distancing period from February 16 to March 3.

As of Monday, the port city has recorded 25 Covid cases in the current outbreak.

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