Travel declaration rule jams HCMC Covid-19 checkpoints

By Ha Giang   August 14, 2021 | 08:46 pm PT
Many Covid checkpoints in HCMC were jammed with people and vehicles on the first day that HCMC required residents to make travel declarations.

On the afternoon of August 14, a checkpoint on Binh Thanh District’s Phan Dang Luu Street was manned by dozens of watchful police officers.

Those entering the district had to fill in a declaration form at

Most people had approval documents but were not aware of the travel declaration, which is different from the health declaration. This created a messy situation at several checkpoints.

In about 30 minutes, the checkpoint on Phan Dang Luu Street was jammed. The crowding of cars and other vehicles forced the police to divide them into lanes as they checked and obtained the travel declarations.

"I drove from District 3 to Binh Thanh through a number of checkpoints where I just needed to show the documents I had to pass. However, at this checkpoint, I was asked to fill in the online form that I was not familiar with, so it took more time," said Huy, who was going to get his Covid-19 vaccine shot.

Congestion on Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh District, HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Giang.

Traffic congestion at a Covid-19 checkpoint on Phan Dang Luu Street, Binh Thanh District, HCMC after a new rule of making online travel declaration took effect. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Giang

A similar situation occurred at a checkpoint on Le Van Duyet Street in the same district, about a kilometer away.

Most people were not used to the new declaration requirement. Many did not have smartphones and many of those that did have the phones had no Internet connection, so staff at the checkpoint have to give them papers and instructions to write down their information before inputting it.

Many people did not know how to use the application and needed help.

According to a police officer at the checkpoint, in addition to the above reasons, the congestion was also caused by mobile cameras that cannot scan the QR code, or phone screens that became blurry under the sun, making it hard for people to use them.

At the same time, the task force was using their phones to access and check declared information, so many phones ran out of battery or Internet data in the middle, interrupting the inspection.

The process itself was time-consuming because people have to scan the QR code hanging at the gate to enter the declaration website.

Once completed, another QR code is issued on their phone screens for the officials to scan and compare the information. A task force member justified the move despite the time taken.

"The deployment of this software helps us know specific details journey of people going through the checkpoint," the official said, adding people should make their declarations at home before setting out.

After receiving the QR code, they can take a screenshot to make the check-in process faster. Each QR code can be used for three days.

The travel declaration rule had been applied starting August 12 at the 12 gateways of Ho Chi Minh City.

On the first day of implementation, the inspection also confused many drivers and proved time consuming.

The new digital system is being deployed by the Ministry of Public Security to manage citizens in Covid-19 hotspots, and is linked to the national population database.

The software will record information of citizens and other residents entering and leaving the epidemic area daily, and enable the tracing of people coming into close contact with Covid-19 patients.

Since the new form is not connected with the health declaration system maintained by the Ministry of Health and a number of applications and websites like tokhaiyte and Bluezone have similar functions, it has been confusing for many people.

As of Sunday, HCMC has recorded 144,770 Covid cases in the current outbreak that started in late April.

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