Hanoi attractions reopen with restrictions

By Hoang Phong   May 12, 2020 | 07:57 pm PT
Hanoi attractions reopen with restrictions
The Temple of Literature, one of the most crowded attractions in Hanoi, has been closed since March 13. Photo by VnExpress/Kieu Duong.
Many historical relics in Hanoi will reopen Thursday after remaining closed for more than a month to contain the coronavirus.

The Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son Temple, Hoa Lo Prison and other historic sites are among the attractions that will welcome tourists back, while still deploying safety precautions.

Body temperature checks, hand sanitizers, information boards on Covid-19 prevention in Vietnamese, English and French will be displayed prominently in many places. All visitors will have to wear face masks.

Le Xuan Kieu, director of the Temple of Literature’s Cultural and Scientific Activity Center, said they would limit the number of visitors to no more than 30 people at a time. "For us, prevention remains the top priority when reopening. We expect a lot fewer visitors as the country continues to ban foreigners’ entry," Kieu said.

Hanoi’s historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square, which closed its doors to tourists from March 23, reopened Tuesday.

Opened in 1973, the granite memorial was inspired by Lenin's mausoleum in Moscow and built on the spot where President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The embalmed body of Uncle Ho is preserved in the central hall inside the building, and protected by a military honor guard.

The Hanoi Opera House in downtown area looks forlorn with much fewer vehicles March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Kieu Duong.

Hanoi Opera House in the downtown looks forlorn with much fewer vehicles in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by VnExpress/Kieu Duong.

Many major travel businesses in Hanoi are launching a series of stimulus packages for the domestic tourism market this weekend.

Tour operator Vietrantour will collaborate with Bamboo Airways and several hotels and resorts to offer promotional tours from Hanoi to popular tourist destinations such as Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Da Lat and Phu Quoc.

Hanoi Redtour will focus on developing full package tours with preferential discounts to coastal localities like Da Nang, Tuy Hoa and Phu Quoc, while Vietravel Hanoi has officially launched stimulus packages with discounts of up to 50 percent, especially on combos including air tickets and hotel rooms.

Hanoi and many other localities around the country had closed all historical sites and tourist attractions since mid-March. All bars, karaoke parlors and entertainment facilities were also shutdown to prevent the spread of the virus.

The city has recorded the highest number of infection cases in the country at 124; all of them have been discharged.

The number of visitors to the capital during the first four months this year dropped by 60 percent year-on-year to 3.89 million due to the pandemic. Nearly 964,000 of these were foreigners, down 59 percent. The capital city earned tourism revenues of VND15.8 trillion ($682.4 million) in the period, a 53.2 percent year-on-year decrease.

Hanoi authorities and CNN last month agreed to temporarily suspend tourism promotion ads on the American news channel until the Covid-19 crisis passes.

Vietnam has eased its social distancing restrictions since April 23 and allowed popular tourist destinations to reopen. The government has also allowed "non-essential" services except karaoke parlors and discos to resume operation.

The country has banned entry of foreign nationals since March 22 and international flights have been suspended since March 25. In certain special cases, as in those with diplomatic or official passports, or coming for special economic projects, foreigners are allowed entry, but they need to present a Covid-19 free certificate from a recognized authority in the country of embarkation and must undergo a 14-day quarantine.

The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) late last week proposed a partial lifting of the suspension on international flights starting June 1.

Vietnam's infection tally rose to 288 after 17 Vietnamese repatriated from the UAE were confirmed positive last Thursday. No new Covid-19 case was confirmed Wednesday morning, marking 27 straight days that Vietnam has gone without community transmission.

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