New Covid-19 outbreak cramps Vietnamese showbiz again

By Hieu Nhan   February 4, 2021 | 02:00 am PT
Live shows and film premieres are being postponed or canceled as the latest Covid-19 outbreak puts Vietnamese showbiz on the back foot again.

"It took us a whole month to prepare the best songs for our audience, many of them newly composed. The stage and musicians were all ready, singers had also arrived..." said Nguyen Thuy Duong, producer of the "Khoanh Khac" (Moment) music show, which was supposed to take place on January 28.

"...but everything had to stop and we have to wait until we have another suitable occasion. This is a public responsibility," Duong said.

Several entertainment events are being deferred or canceled after a record number of new Covid-19 patients were confirmed in one single day on January 28.

Vietnam's streak of no Covid-19 community transmission cases for nearly two months was broken on January 28 in a big way with 366 cases confirmed in the country.

An employee cleans seats at Galaxy Cinema in Saigons District 1, May 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

An employee cleans seats at Galaxy Cinema in Saigon's District 1, May 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

The timing could not have been worse for artists and their audiences preparing with enthusiasm for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival season, the high point of the year for both sides.

Singer Pham Quynh Anh apologized to her fans for not being able to participate in a music show in Hanoi on January 29.

"My colleagues and I must ensure safety for ourselves and our audiences. I hope will stand tall, raise our awareness and get through this ordeal together," Anh said.

Singers Nguyen Ngoc Anh, Vu Duy Khanh, Viet Dung and composer Giang Son have also delayed their planned performances.

Thanh Thanh, a media industry insider, said local artists have been hit hard by the latest Covid-19 outbreak because they had planned elaborately for the festive season.

Empty stages, blank screens

"Tao Quan" (Kitchen God), the most anticipated comedy show on Vietnam's national television for every Lunar New Year in the last decade, was screened without any audience in Hanoi on January 28.

The premiere of "Gai Gia Lam Chieu 5," (The Last Egg 5) scheduled for February 5 in Hanoi was also canceled, though the movie’s crew had booked their flight tickets to the capital city.

A movie premiere in Saigon is now under consideration.

A still cut from Gai Gia Lam Chieu 5 (The Last Egg 5). Photo courtesy of Gai Gia Lam Chieu 5.

A still cut from "Gai Gia Lam Chieu 5" (The Last Egg 5). Photo courtesy of "Gai Gia Lam Chieu 5."

"It is sad because we have invested a lot of money for the two events, but safety comes first," said director Bao Nhan, who has received sympathy and encouragement from several artists over his predicament.

The Vietnamese Writers' Association has also chosen to cancel an event planned for February 1 at the Vietnam Museum of Literature.

"The executive committee of the association hopes the Covid-19 pandemic will be contained soon so we can organize the event in the first month of the Lunar New Year," Nguyen Quang Thieu, Chairman of the Vietnam Writers' Association, wrote on the association’s website.

While the latest resurfacing of the pandemic has caught many artists by surprise, they have used the disruption to their agenda to remind people of the importance of protective measures.

On their Facebook pages, many have called on netizens not to drop their guard and posted photos of themselves wearing masks.

"This spring is different from others, Covid is hunting every household... Masks and sanitizers always at hand...," actor Lan Huong posted on her Facebook page.

The latest showbiz disruption repeats last year’s scenario, when many movie releases and music shows had to be postponed or canceled as people kept away from crowded places, particularly in February and July.

On January 28, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, said they would strive to contain the outbreak within 10 days.

The situation now is compounded by the fact that there are infections with the new, highly transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus said to have originated in the U.K.

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