Hanoi, HCMC to ease social distancing with variations

By Staff reporters   April 22, 2020 | 04:44 am PT
Hanoi, HCMC to ease social distancing with variations
People in HCMC during the social distancing period in April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Hanoi and HCMC have been allowed to relax their social distancing measures from Thursday as infections have plateaued.

Both cities will begin implementing more relaxed restrictions than before when the 22-day social distancing campaign Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc launched in April 1 was still in place.

The end of the social distancing campaign means the rules that do not allow gatherings of more than two people and ask people to stay at home, stepping outside only for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in "essential" goods and services are no longer applied to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Those rules were applied to all localities across Vietnam between April 1-15, and extended for another week for 12 localities deemed to carry "high risks" of Covid-19 infections, including Hanoi and HCMC.

Both cities, now classified only as "at risk", as well as other localities will still have to stop social events, gatherings of over 20 people in a place and gatherings of 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools and hospitals. A minimum distance of two meters should be maintained between people in public places.

Earlier, in an online meeting of senior Covid-19 prevention officials from all 63 provinces and cities, HCMC People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said that during the 22-day social distancing campaign, the city went 19 consecutive days without new cases and only has two active cases left. Accordingly, Ho Chi Minh City proposed that the Prime Minister allows it to stop the social distancing campaign starting Thursday.

HCMC is allowed to open shops, street businesses and some non-essential services. With a couple of areas like the districts of Thuong Tin and Me Linh still deemed "high-risk" of infection, Hanoi will have more restrictions in place than HCMC. Stringent social distancing measures will still fully be applied to those districts.

Hanoi authorities said they will continue to prohibit bars, karaoke, restaurants, game centers and tea shops, which typically gather people in large numbers, from opening. Festivals and sport events will also remain paused. People can go out normally but should still do so only when necessary. When going out, they must wear masks and keep a safe distance. Not wearing a mask when going out will continue to be fined.

Transportation such as buses, taxis and ride-hailing services can resume, but the city will set certain restrictions; for instance, on the number of seats that can be filled and should remain empty. All means of transportation need to have hand-sanitizers at hand.

Hanoi hasn’t decided when to resume school for over two million students in the capital city.

The city has recorded 112 Covid-19 cases so far, of which 81 have been discharged and 31 are under treatment. Hanoi hasn’t recorded a new case since April 16.

Living with the pandemic

The Prime Minister said that over the past three months, Vietnam has consistently taken many measures to achieve important and encouraging results. However, people still need to be alert, he cautioned.

"We have applied social distancing properly and promptly, so in the past six days no cases have been detected. Particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, there have been no new cases for 19 days straight," the PM said.

Phuc said that in the coming time, Vietnam has to accept the situation of living with the pandemic and people should be aware of this. 

"Many parts of the world are still infected, so the risk is not over for us. So, adapting to Covid-19 is normal and pandemic control is necessary," he noted.

In the 22-day distancing campaign for "high-risk" localities that ended Wednesday, all "non-essential" businesses such as bars, clubs and restaurants were ordered to close temporarily.

Of Vietnam’s 268 Covid-19 cases so far, 223 have recovered. The country has recorded no new infection in the last six days.

The pandemic has spread to 210 countries and territories and its reported death toll has crossed 177,600.

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