PM orders consideration of Covid 'vaccine passport' for economic, travel recovery

By Viet Tuan   March 17, 2021 | 02:44 am PT
PM orders consideration of Covid 'vaccine passport' for economic, travel recovery
Foreign tourists walk on Bui Vien backpacker street in downtown HCMC, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyet Nhi.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered relevant agencies to map out plans for "Covid-19 vaccine passport" implementation to soon help tourism and aviation sectors recover.

Speaking at a government meeting Wednesday, Phuc requested relevant agencies to consider "appropriate anti-pandemic prevention measures" as the country adopts an official policy for Covid-19 vaccine passport holders.

His directive came after tourism experts earlier this month suggested the government consider opening up to vaccinated foreign visitors from the third quarter in a similar vein to regional peers to revive the hard-hit tourism industry.

While some experts proposed those holding "vaccine passports" should still undergo 14-day quarantine in the absence of information on the potential risk of infection following two-dose inoculation, others suggested the exemption of mandatory quarantine if foreign arrivals show a vaccine certificate and negative test results before and after entering the country.

A "vaccine passport" entered the agenda as the Southeast Asian country committed to both containing Covid-19 outbreaks and ensuring economic growth, rebooting hard-hit sectors like aviation and tourism.

Phuc said many businesses in sectors like transport, tourism and services have been badly affected; as a result, many people have been left unemployed.

The PM also ordered relevant agencies to consider gradually resuming international flights.

The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March last year with only Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in with stringent conditions.

The government last year green-lighted the resumption of commercial flights to seven Asian destinations, mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, but Vietnamese carriers are still not allowed to operate inbound flights.

Due to border closures and travel restrictions, Vietnam recorded a 79 percent decline year-on-year in the number of foreign visitors in 2020, according to official data.

As the world started rolling out Covid-19 vaccine shots, inoculation certificates have emerged to identify those that have been vaccinated for cross-border travel.

China and Israel were the first to issue digital health certificates for travelers who had been vaccinated against Covid-19, also dubbed "vaccine passports."

The U.S. and Britain are among countries currently considering issuing similar permits, while the E.U. is also working on its own vaccine "green pass," allowing those who have had the jab to travel more freely within the region this summer.

Vietnam has recorded 904 cases in its latest Covid-19 outbreak since Jan. 28, but most of the 13 affected localities have gone through many days without any local transmission of the novel coronavirus.

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