Vietnam Issues Strict Social Distancing Measures to Combat COVID-19

March 31, 2020

On March 31, 2020, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued Directive No. 16/CT-TTg, which sets out Vietnam’s strongest measures yet for preventing and controlling the COVID-19 virus.

Notably, Directive 16 mandates strict social distancing throughout the country for 15 days, from April 1 through April 15. In the wording of the directive, “families should be distanced from families, villages should be distanced from villages … provinces should be distanced from provinces.”

Practical Implications

All people are required to stay at home, except for trips to buy essential goods such as food and medicine, for emergencies, and to go to work at factories and businesses that remain open. People are also required to strictly maintain a minimum distance of two meters when meeting others. Gatherings of more than two people are prohibited in all public places, and outside/in front of workplaces, schools, and hospitals.

Factories and workshops must ensure a safe distance between employees, facemasks must be worn, and workplaces must be sterilized according to regulations.

All state agencies are required to arrange for their staff to work from home.

Public transportation services will be suspended and travel/transport from region to region will be minimized, except for essential goods and services.

Border crossings between Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos will be temporarily closed from April 1. Immigration will be tightly controlled at all international border crossings; all those entering from Cambodia and Laos will be quarantined for 14 days.

Impact on Foreign Businesses

Mai Tien Dung, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office, later clarified in an interview that, for foreign businesses, management is free to determine whether to continue allowing employees to go to work based on the situation, but that they must be responsible for ensuring their employees’ health and safety in accordance with regulations. However, the government encourages the use of remote-working technology to allow employees to work from home.

Further clarifying guidance on issues such as what businesses are considered essential, if forthcoming, would help in implementing the policy.