Vietnam beaches remain closed despite social distancing relaxations

By Hoang Phong    April 23, 2020 | 04:33 am PT
Vietnam beaches remain closed despite social distancing relaxations
Tourists play on a beach in Tuy Hoa Town, Phu Yen Province in central Vietnam, April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc.
Most famous beach destinations in Vietnam remain closed to limit the gathering of crowds even after the easing of social distancing measures.

Coastal provinces like Ba Ria-Vung Tau in southern Vietnam; and Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Phu Yen, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Binh in the central region are keeping their beaches closed and not receiving visitors until further notice.

The closure is being maintained despite Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stating Wednesday that no cities and provinces are deemed at "high-risk" for Covid-19 infections. Starting Thursday, the social distancing campaign’s extension applied to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 10 other localities under Directive 16 has been lifted.

Directive 16 does not allow gatherings of more than two people and asks people to stay at home, stepping outside only for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in "essential" goods and services.

Nguyen Tan Tuan, Chairman of Khanh Hoa Province, home to the famous beach town of Nha Trang, said if local beaches are reopened, it would be difficult to control gatherings of more than 20 people as mandated under Directive 15 issued March 27.

The central province has allowed "non-essential" business services to resume operation from Thursday but ordered continued compliance with anti-pandemic measures.

In other central localities like Binh Thuan, Phu Yen, Hoi An of Quang Nam Province, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Binh, tourist destinations remain closed along with bars, karaoke parlors and other entertainment facilities.

People sit at a sidewalk coffee shop in Da Nang City, April 23 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

People sit at a sidewalk coffee shop in Da Nang City, April 23, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

One beach destination that has bucked the trend is Da Nang City, which has reopened its beaches and resumed some "non-essential" services like restaurants and cafes.

A warning sign along the sidewalk of My Khe beach in Da Nang’s Ngu Hanh Son District was removed Thursday morning. Hundreds of people flocked to the beach, one of Asia’s most beautiful, to swim and enjoy the fresh air.

Vo Van Lam, whose house is a few hundred meters from My Khe, said: "I have had the habit of swimming in beaches since I was young, therefore, during the isolation days I felt very frustrated. The beach was barricaded and police forces on duty reminded people not to gather in crowds at public beaches." 

"The atmosphere is different from yesterday," Lam added, as he walked to My Khe beach at around 6 a.m.

Apart from some areas in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Ha Giang still deemed "high risk" for Covid-19, Hanoi, HCMC and other localities will begin implementing Directive 15 that allows more relaxed restrictions than Directive 16.

Directive 15 asks localities across the country to stop social events, gatherings of over 20 people in a place and gatherings of 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools and hospitals. A minimum distance of two meters should be maintained between people in public places.

Vietnam has seen Q1 foreign arrivals plummet following several entry restrictions and the closure of tourism destinations in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country welcomed nearly 3.7 million foreign tourists in the first quarter, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, according to General Statistics Office (GSO).

The nation’s active Covid-19 infection count has remained unchanged at 44 since last Thursday, and 224 have been discharged from hospitals.

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