HCMC, 18 southern localities extend social distancing for another two weeks

By Viet Tuan, Nguyen Dong    July 31, 2021 | 05:57 am PT
HCMC, 18 southern localities extend social distancing for another two weeks
A lone ambulance vehicle on Vo Van Kiet Boulevard in downtown HCMC, July 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.
All 19 southern localities including HCMC will extend social distancing under Directive 16 for another 14 days to contain the coronavirus.

The localities to impose extended social distancing besides HCMC are Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and 13 Mekong Delta localities Can Tho, Tien Giang, Long An, Vinh Long, Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Hau Giang, An Giang, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Ca Mau and Kien Giang, according to a decision issued by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Saturday.

The 19 cities and provinces are home to around 35 million people or more than a third of the country's population.

They are ordered "not to let residents leave their neighborhood from July 31 until the social distancing order ends."

Localities that have better controlled the pandemic after a period of social distancing can consider easing restrictions on certain areas, while others can consider adding more restrictions if necessary, PM Chinh said.

Directive 16 requires people to stay home and only go out for basic necessities like buying food or medicines or to work at factories or businesses allowed to operate.

People must keep a distance of at least two meters. No more than two people can gather together in public apart from work, schools or hospitals. The majority of public transportation will be shut down and there will be no travel between localities.

On July 9, HCMC and Dong Nai began their two-week social distancing periods, with both localities extending their campaigns until Aug. 1 as the number of daily infections have shown little signs of abating. Meanwhile, Binh Duong began applying social distancing in certain areas on different dates since late last month.

Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and the Mekong Delta began their two-week period on July 19.

Many of the southern localities have added night movement ban besides the directive's restrictions.

The southern region, particularly HCMC, is carrying the brunt of the worst coronavirus wave to ever hit Vietnam. Cases have been rising steadily over the past few weeks, with the southern metropolis recording numbers in the thousands.

The central hub Da Nang, home to 1.2 million people, also entered its 14-day citywide social distancing campaign under Directive 16 accompanied by more stringent measures from 6 p.m. Saturday until further notice amid rising infections, which have hit 938 in the fourth wave.

Authorities in the popular coastal city ordered all business establishments to suspend operations, including takeaway services. Only supermarkets, convenience stores, traditional markets, grocery stores selling essential goods and transportation and delivery services serving essential goods are allowed to operate.

Over three months into its fourth wave, Vietnam has recorded 141,826 cases in 62 of its 63 cities and provinces.

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