Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Vietnam continues to adjust COVID-19 controls, including localized curbs, as of Sept. 1. Arrivals to pay isolation costs.

Alert Begins 01 Sep 2020 07:34 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

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

Summary
Authorities continue to adjust measures as of Sept. 1 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials announced Aug. 30 that arrivals have to pay for isolation costs starting from Sept. 1; people who can enter Vietnam must quarantine for 14 days at government-run facilities. Authorities have also approved visa extensions through Sept. 30 for foreigners already in Vietnam.

The government continues to require people arriving from Da Nang to isolate at their residence for 14 days. The policy comes after officials in Da Nang confirmed new COVID-19 community transmission cases late July; the cases were Vietnam's first since April. Local authorities may also implement stricter localized measures, including quarantine at government-designated facilities, for returnees from Da Nang. In Da Nang itself, local officials continue to suspend nonessential businesses, travel to and from the city, and public gatherings of over two people. The central government is allowing public transport vehicles, including buses, taxis, trains, ships, and planes, to operate nationwide with precautions in place. However, areas with COVID-19 activity may implement localized transport restrictions. Safeguards include requiring passengers to wear protective masks, complete health declaration forms before the trips, and frequently sanitize their hands.

Strict localized controls remain in place in parts of Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, though some areas have eased measures due to decreased local COVID-19 activity. The central government has given provincial or city authorities discretion to modify controls to local conditions. Officials in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, continue to limit mass gatherings to 30 people until further notice and suspend entertainment venues, including bars and karaoke parlors. Quang Nam Province continues to suspend festivals, religious events, and sporting and other activities, as well as some non-essential services like beauty parlors, clubs, and bars. The province earlier allowed public gatherings of more than two people and some businesses, like food establishments and hotels, to resume as of Sept. 1. Local authorities in several places, including Phu Yen Province, have suspended tourism activities. In locations that allow tourism sites to continue operating, common health protocols include requiring all visitors and workers to use protective masks, sanitize their hands frequently, and maintain physical distancing. In various locations, including Ho Chi Minh City, people have to wear facemasks when in public; violators may face fines of VND 100,000-300,000 (USD 4-13). Central and local officials may reintroduce or implement additional restrictions if new COVID-19 activity increases further.

Travel Restrictions

Officials continue to bar entry for foreign nationals, with limited exceptions. Authorities stated, June 24, that Vietnam was not ready to admit foreign tourists back into the country, even though officials started to issue electronic visas to foreign nationals from 80 locations July 1. These locations include Australia, mainland China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, the UK, and the US. Foreigners who can still enter Vietnam include essential and skilled workers. Flights to Vietnam remain operational, though only Vietnamese citizens and limited groups of foreigners can board.

Background and Analysis
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.

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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