Hanoi, HCMC impose travel restrictions to commute Covid-19

By Phuong Son, Huu Nguyen, Viet Tuan   March 27, 2020 | 06:33 am PT
Hanoi, HCMC impose travel restrictions to commute Covid-19
People ride a public bus in Hanoi on March 23, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Phuong Son.
Vietnam's largest cities Hanoi and Saigon will reduce public transportation and transport to other localities to help curb the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The capital would cut 12,400 bus rounds per day, or 80 percent of the daily average, starting Friday, said Thai Ho Phuong, deputy director of the Hanoi Urban Transport Management and Operation Center. The cut would be applied to all bus lines across the city, he added.

"Before, there would be a bus round every 5-15 minutes, but now there would be one every 45-60 minutes," he said, adding buses would run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, instead of the usual 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The cut would last until April 5 until further notice, said Phuong.

HCMC would suspend all passenger buses that travel to other provinces from functioning for two weeks, said Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong of the HCMC People's Committee at a meeting Thursday. The suspension is expected to start from 6 p.m. Friday, he said.

Phong requested public bus services either be suspended or have their rounds cut dramatically. Ride-hailing services, except for delivery services, are also being considered for suspension.

He requested the transport department to find ways to reduce the number of passengers flying to the city's Tan Son Nhat airport, as well as controlling the flow of people entering the city via rail. The airport has been closed to foreign arrivals but still receives domestic flights.

"Tan Son Nhat receives around 7,000 domestic passengers per day, which is a large number... If we cannot suspend all flights, the number of passengers entering the city must stay under control," he said.

Both Hanoi and HCMC have been instructed to limit the number of flights and transportation from the two cities to other places, said the Ministry of Transport in accordance with a directive from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday.

Phuc called for transportation restrictions from localities with Covid-19 outbreaks to other areas, as well as limiting public transportation and large gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus. Restrictions would not be applied to vehicles that transport goods however.

As the number of Covid-19 cases in Vietnam rises day by day, authorities have introduced several measures to stave off its spread. Phuc for example has banned crowds of more than 20 people and ordered localities to close "non-essential" businesses, including massage parlors, karaoke bars, tourist sites, entertainment venues, movie theaters, beauty salons, beer shops, restaurants and eateries until April 15 to contain the epidemic.

Only shops providing food, medicine and fuel should remain open, he said.

Vietnam has confirmed 163 Covid-19 cases so far, of whom 20 have been discharged from hospitals. Many of the active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S. and foreigners visiting from the same regions.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 24,100 people globally after spreading to 199 countries and territories. The U.S. has surpassed China to become the worst-hit nation, reporting more than 85,000 infection cases.

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