Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Vietnam allowing most non-essential businesses to reopen as of May 8 due to reduced COVID-19 activity. Other measures remain in place.

This alert affects Vietnam

This alert began 08 May 2020 03:52 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, travel and business disruptions, mandatory quarantines

Summary
The central government in Vietnam has allowed most nonessential businesses to resume operation nationwide following a reduction of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity, as of May 8. Sports events and festivals can also take place; only karaoke parlors and clubs must remain closed. The central government has given provincial or city authorities discretion to modify the restrictions to local conditions.

Officials have also lifted social distancing regulations for public transport nationwide and allowed buses, taxis, trains, ships, and planes to operate at full passenger capacity. Precautions, including the requirement for passengers to wear masks, complete health declaration forms, and frequently sanitize their hands, remain in place. The government previously allowed airlines to increase flight capacity, especially on services between Da Nang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. Authorities intend to further increase capacity along these routes and to other locations in the country from May 16. Train operators have also restarted services in some routes, including between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The government has lifted the strictest social distancing measures in most parts of the country. As of May 8, authorities are not classifying any province or municipality as a high-risk area. Officials, however, have designated Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and Bac Ninh and Ha Giang provinces as medium-risk areas. Officials are restricting gatherings outside workplaces to 10 people and requiring residents to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters (6.5 feet) from one another in these areas. In low-risk areas, authorities are limiting gatherings to 30 people and enforcing a 1-meter (3-foot) distancing rule. Religious services remain suspended in medium- and low-risk areas. Several districts and towns, including Thuong Tin District in Hanoi and Dong Van District in Ha Giang Province, continue to implement more stringent measures, such as stay-at-home orders, the suspension of public transport, and a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. Wearing masks in public remains mandatory nationwide.

Travel Restrictions

Authorities continue to ban foreign nationals from entering the country, with exceptions for essential and skilled workers. Individuals who can enter the country will undergo quarantine for 14 days at government-run facilities. Land borders with Cambodia and Laos remain closed for passenger travel. Officials could expand restrictions in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by Vietnam correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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