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Saigon backpacker street awaits return to fun and games

By Nguyet Nhi   April 23, 2020 | 10:00 pm PT
Food stalls, nail salons and beer clubs on Bui Vien Street, Saigon’s backpacker area, are cleaning up and awaiting the government’s order to reopen.
[Caption]aaOn Wednesday, right after the government decided to ease social distancing measures in HCMC after the city has gone 18 clean days without new infections, Bui Vien Street in District 1 turned busier than previous days with many business establishments cleaning up, repairing

On Wednesday afternoon, soon before the government decided to ease social distancing measures in HCMC after the city went 18 days without new infections, Bui Vien Street in District 1 turned busy with many shops getting a cleanup and renovation after more than a month of closure.
But establishments like karaoke parlors, bars, cinemas, and Internet cafés continue to remain closed.

[Caption]aaA group of employees of a beer club repaint tables and chairs after more than one month of closure as a preventive measure to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.   Since mid-March, the city closed all places of amusement such as cinemas, massage and karaoke parlors, beer clubs and discotheques

Employees at a beer club fix chairs as they prepare to reopen. In mid-March the city closed all amusement venues like cinemas, massage and karaoke parlors, beer clubs, and discotheques.


Tien, one of the beer club employees, said: "It is necessary to paint and repair the shop. However, we do not know when exactly businesses can resume. We have to wait for the authorities."

On Wednesday Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc changed HCMC’s designation from ‘high risk’ to ‘at risk’, relaxing social isolation requirements.


To Van Quy is hired to repair tables and chairs at a shop. He said he receives quite a lot of orders to decorate and repair signboards and others in the backpacker area.


A worker at a karaoke parlor checks music systems.


A worker cleans the glass doors of a bar.

HCMC has 180 bars and beer clubs and around 500 karaoke parlors, cinemas, massage parlors, and Internet cafés.


Technicians service an air conditioner at a beer club on Thursday morning.


According to the beer club staff, the air-conditioning and sound and light systems have not been used for more than a month, and so require servicing.


A woman cleans up a nail salon. She said she has been eagerly waiting for the last few days for the city government's decision to reopen her business.


Linh Phuong, the owner of a pub, cleans the sidewalk in front. Since the city has had no new cases she is no longer as worried as before, she said. "Now I'm just looking forward to normal business."

I hope that the area will soon return to a bustling atmosphere like before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in Vietnam so that everyone get more stable job, said Pham Van Hoa, a pub worker while spraying water to wash the sidewalk in front of his shop.

"I hope the area will soon return to its bustling self as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out so that everyone can get regular jobs," Pham Van Hoa, a pub worker, said while washing the sidewalk in front.


Foreign tourists in face masks walk on Bui Vien on Thursday after the city ended a 22-day social distancing campaign.

Bui Vien is dubbed "Saigon beer street" and closed to vehicles on weekends. It is popular with foreign tourists for its bustle and energy, beer clubs, bars and pubs, loud music, blinking lights, and atmosphere of general cheer.

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