HCMC districts cautiously resume normality

By Ha An, Gia Minh   September 27, 2021 | 04:31 pm PT
Districts 7, Can Gio and Cu Chi in HCMC are planning to lift even more Covid-19 restrictions after 10 days of reopening.

On Sunday afternoon, Vo Thi Khanh Huong, 51, a District 7 resident, went grocery shopping at a supermarket two kilometers from her home.

Wearing a face mask, she had her body temperature checked, completed a medical declaration and presented a certificate stating she had received one Covid-19 vaccine dose two weeks prior. The procedure cost her around two minutes.

For over a week, her family and neighbors have been offered coupons to go grocery shopping, with each household allowed one person for the task once a week.

"After three months at home, it feels so good to go out."

She also appreciated the new rule that allows her to buy goods on her own instead of having it done via third parties.

Ho Chi Minh City has been put under Directive 16, which bans people from going out except for "essential purposes," including buying food and seeking medical treatment from July 9. However, as Covid-19 grew more complicated, between Aug. 23 and Sept. 15 people in the city were instructed to "stay put where you are."

People buy food at a supermarket in District 7, September 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An

People buy food at a supermarket in District 7, September 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An

After Sept. 15, the city resumed food and drink delivery services and also lifted the inter-district delivery ban but has yet to allow people to go grocery shopping on their own, except for the three districts of 7, Can Gio and Cu Chi, considered to have basically put the outbreak under control.

District 7 is also the only district in HCMC to allow people to go walking and exercise in certain parks and tennis courts under strict requirements, including having been fully vaccinated, wearing a face mask and keeping a safe distance of two meters from others.

Tran Tri Dung, the district's deputy Party chief, said 10 days after easing some restrictions, the locality has not recorded an increase in the number of new infections.

Therefore, the district is planning to expand the pilot plan to have more people engage in public sports and exercise, including reopening stadiums, indoor sports clubs and all parks equipped with exercise equipment.

The district is also implementing a plan to resume regular medical examination and treatment at District 7 Hospital, with the treatment of Covid-19 patients assigned only to the district's field hospital.

"More than 46 percent of the district's population have received two vaccine doses and it is expected that all would be covered by mid-October to restore production and business activities," Dung said.

In Cu Chi District, traditional markets and stores trading essential products have been reopened in communes where no community cases have been found within 14 days, or "green areas."

By Sept. 22, the district had had 865 production and service facilities meeting requirements to resume operation with more than 8,700 laborers back to work.

The district is also planning to resume several tourism activities, including one-day tours to ecotourism and historic sites.

In Hoa Phu Commune, one of the "green areas," in Cu Chi, people have been allowed to go grocery shopping once a week in the past 10 days.

Some businesses have also been allowed to reopen under the conditions that all employees must have been fully vaccinated while employers must organize regular mass testing of staff, said Nguyen Thi Cam Hong, the commune's chairwoman.

Cu Chi chairman Pham Thi Thanh Hien said in parallel with pandemic control measures, the district is preparing to gradually recover production and trading activities.

For now, the district targets to provide all their second Covid-19 jab by Oct. 10.

A traffic police officer stop vehicles for a random check in Cu Chi District, September 22, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Giang

A traffic police officer stop vehicles for a random check in Cu Chi District, September 22, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Giang

In Can Gio District, chairman Nguyen Van Hong said the outbreak remains under control after 10 days of eased restrictions, with less than 10 cases per day. The district had recently spent three days in a row without any community infections.

More than half of Can Gio's population has been fully vaccinated and with more to get the second shot in the coming time, more restrictions will be lifted, he said.

It is expected the district would let people go grocery shopping two-three times per week and have half of the total number of fishing vessels resume nearshore operation.

The district also plans to let people go out for exercise.

Can Gio has so far organized three tours for around 400 frontline workers, marking HCMC's tourism reopening after more than three months.

Chairman Hong said in the coming time, the district would expand the tourism recovery plan to reopen more restaurants, and hotels.

HCMC is the epicenter of the fourth Covid-19 wave to hit Vietnam late April, recording 375,794 cases and 14,368 deaths to date.

It has gone through different levels of social distancing rule since late May.

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