Expats ready to live with Covid, want quick return to normalcy

By Viet Anh   October 13, 2021 | 07:00 pm PT
Expats ready to live with Covid, want quick return to normalcy
A foreign woman is at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in HCMC, which has reopened after months of closure, October 9, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
With vaccination and masks, foreigners living in HCMC and Hanoi are not too afraid of falling sick with Covid and want a return to normalcy.

At a time when large cities are gradually resuming social and economic activities, foreigners are cautiously getting back to their daily routines.

Charlotte Brown, an Australian living in District 1, HCMC, says she went out walking and shopping and caught up with her friends after months of lockdowns.

She visited various places around the city without any fear of being infected since everyone around her was wearing masks.

Also, security guards at places where she showed up systematically checked people’s temperature and scanned QR codes at the entrance.

To protect herself, Brown wears a mask and sanitizes her hands religiously.

"I am ready to live with the pandemic and do not want it to control my life."

Indian man Radhakrishnan MB, also of HCMC, has been as excited as his employees to return to office.

Though a bit wary of possibly spreading the infection, he is not afraid he will fall sick thanks to the vaccination, and plans to return to the gym.

He says he feels a bit sad that many small shops where he used to buy things before have not reopened possibly because of financial difficulties. He also misses the hustle and bustle that existed in the city before the pandemic.

In Hanoi, Fran Araujo, a Spaniard, says he is delighted to go around their building with his "hyperactive" two-year-old. Besides, he is able to again ride his bicycle around the city every morning.

He does not fear contracting Covid since he has had the vaccine and strictly follows safety measures. His one worry is that his family could be quarantined if he tests positive.

Araujo rides his bike to Ba Vi, Hanoi, in October, 2021. Photo courtesy of Araujo.

Fran Araujo rides his bike to Ba Vi, Hanoi, in October, 2021. Photo courtesy of Araujo

Hanoi has a low number of new cases now, most of them in isolated areas, Araujo points out.

Though some people are very careful and even wear two masks, most have already started to drop their guard, queuing up at many places and gathering on the street, habits from the past, he says.

"I am just careful and responsible."

Tui Munday, an American woman also living in Hanoi, has been to Thong Nhat Park twice so far after being cooped up indoors for a long time. She went to a shopping mall once but did not enter since it was too crowded. Nonetheless, she does not worry much because she has had one shot of a vaccine.

She is impressed that Vietnamese, even children, keep their mask on most of the time and complain less than westerners.

After weeks of letting food and beverage establishments to serve takeaways, Hanoi has allowed on-site dining and reopening of parks, hotels and public transportation starting Thursday.

Restaurants and hotels must function at half their maximum capacity. Owners and their employees must be fully vaccinated, and make sure that customers maintain distances from each other.

Museums and parks must only serve groups of up to 10 people each.

Expectations for various plans

Brown hopes the HCMC government will allow cafes and restaurants to open with safety measures in place because people need social interaction.

Many countries have shown that certain activities could be allowed for vaccinated people, she says and hopes to see the city get back its hustle and bustle this Christmas.

In October HCMC allowed most activities to resume thanks to lower infection and mortality rates though eateries can only sell takeout food unless authorized by competent authorities to offer dine-in services.

In Hanoi, Munday says she badly wants to go and do some grocery shopping as it is not easy to buy everything online and to travel by public transport. She also looks forward to meeting her friends for coffee and drinks.

Araujo says he misses racing and is waiting to ride outside Hanoi.

What most foreigners look forward to even more is convenient travel within the country and internationally.

The country resumed flights on 19 routes including the Hanoi-HCMC route Sunday, on a 11-day trial basis, in which only fully vaccinated people are welcome aboard.

Plans for resuming international flights have not been finalized.

Munday is at Hoan Kiem lake, Hanoi, in October 2021. Photo courtesy of Munday.

Tui Munday is at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, October 2021. Photo courtesy of Munday

Munday says as a businesswoman she needs to travel to various places in Vietnam, other countries in Asia and the U.S. for meetings and networking.

But she realizes it will take a bit longer for all that.

Araujo wishes his family can go to Spain to introduce their little daughter to her grandparents.

International flights are imperative for people to visit their families and for companies that have factories in a number of countries.

Radhakrishnan expects international travel from Vietnam to take around six months to recover. He himself is in no hurry to travel yet since his country, India, has strict quarantine rules.

William Anderson, an American, does not expect the situation in HCMC to improve too quickly either and thinks most people have to work remotely until Tet.

Anderson said many people in HCMC are acting as if the pandemic is over, and this "recklessness" worries him quite a bit. Travel may not recover soon, he fears.

"The key point of international travel is that foreigners can easily come back to Vietnam after visiting their families."

go to top