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April 24, 2020

Vietnam Loosens Strict Social Distancing Measures

The Government Office of Vietnam recently announced the conclusions of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc regarding the combat of the COVID-19 pandemic following government meetings on April 20 and 22, 2020. Accordingly, the country has now moved into long-term epidemic combat, and thus needs to practice appropriate social distancing while facilitating the supply of goods and business development. As such, the strict social distancing guidelines under Directive No. 16/CT-TTg issued on March 31, 2020, have been lifted for most localities.

In particular, the risk categorization of the localities is as follows:

  • High-risk areas: Dong Van District of Ha Giang Province; Yen Phong District of Bac Ninh Province; Thuong Tin and Me Linh districts of Hanoi;
  • At-risk areas: Hanoi, except for the areas in the high-risk group;
  • Low-risk areas: the remaining provinces and municipal cities.

The high-risk areas will continue to implement the strict social distancing measures under Directive 16, while the other areas can begin to loosen such measures starting from April 23, 2020. However, it is strongly recommended that people should still have raised awareness regarding the risk of infection.

The heads of provinces and municipal cities are responsible for providing further guidance on the extent to which social distancing measures will be loosened, such as (i) facilitating the normal course of business while ensuring preventive measures, (ii) determining the risk level of subordinate locations (districts, communes) in order to apply the suitable preventive measures, (iii) guiding in detail the preventive measures based on the directions of the Prime Minister, the COVID-19 Task Force, and the Ministry of Health, and (iv) inspecting and supervising the implementation of preventive measures in agencies, offices, production establishments and schools in their respective locality.

Following up on the directions of the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Hanoi has announced that businesses can be re-opened from April 23, 2020, with the exception of non-essential businesses such as bars, karaoke, and online gaming hubs. Festivals, sporting events, and religious activities that require crowded gatherings are not yet allowed. Transportation services are allowed to resume but can only operate at 20-30% capacity in order to ensure safety for passengers.

The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City also issued Official Letter No. 1490/UBND-VX on April 23, 2020, for further implementation of the COVID-19 fighting measures. Accordingly, some non-essential businesses and activities must remain closed until further notice, including hair salons, spas, entertainment centers, cinemas, bars, beer clubs, online gaming hubs, etc.; homestay and Airbnb establishments; religious gatherings or other meetings of more than 20 people; and public gatherings of more than 20 people outside offices, schools or hospitals. (Under Directive 16, public gatherings were limited to just two people.) Furthermore, transportation including taxi and ride-hailing services can resume operation from April 23, 2020. Inter-city passenger transport services may operate at from 30% to 50% of their capacity, depending on the risk categorization of the destinations. Public buses are expected to resume on May 3, 2020.

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