Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Vietnam continues to ease COVID-19 protocols as of Sept. 15. International flights with some locations resuming.

Alert Begins 15 Sep 2020 11:17 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Oct 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
Vietnam continues to ease measures as of Sept. 15 amid reduced local coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities have allowed the resumption of international flights with Guangzhou, Seoul, Taiwan, and Tokyo from Sept. 15. Flights with Cambodia and Laos will restart from Sept. 22. However, the entry ban for most foreigners remains in place, with exceptions for foreign experts, investors, managers, skilled workers, and resident diplomats; foreign tourists remain barred from boarding inbound flights and visiting Vietnam. Permitted inbound passengers must test negative for COVID-19 up to five days before the travel date, quarantine at designated facilities for at least five days, and test for COVID-19 twice at the isolation sites, with limited exemptions. With exceptions for diplomats, arrivals have to pay for quarantine costs. Foreign experts, business managers, investors, and diplomats who are visiting Vietnam for less than 14 days are exempt from isolation requirements, though they still have to comply with other health protocols. Safeguards include testing for COVID-19 before departure and upon arrival, frequently sanitizing their hands, and adhering to contact tracing measures.

The central government is allowing public transport vehicles, including buses, taxis, trains, ships, and planes, to operate nationwide with precautions in place. Safeguards include requiring passengers to wear facemasks, complete health declaration forms before the trips, and frequently sanitize their hands. However, areas with COVID-19 activity may implement additional transport restrictions.

Parts of Vietnam have relaxed controls due to decreased local COVID-19 activity, though some areas have maintained restrictions. The central government has given provincial or city authorities discretion to modify curbs to local conditions. Da Nang has resumed intercity travel and reopened beaches, though local officials continue to suspend some nonessential businesses and public gatherings of over 20 people. Ho Chi Minh City has allowed bars and clubs to reopen, while crowded events like festivals and trade fairs can take place again. Bars and clubs in Hanoi will reportedly also restart operations from Sept. 16. Some areas, including Hoi An and Phu Yen Province, have resumed tourism activities. Precautions in tourism sites typically include requiring visitors and workers to wear facemasks, maintain physical distancing from each other, and clean their hands regularly.

However, local authorities in some areas continue to implement strict measures for returnees from Da Nang, which was the center of an outbreak in July. Ho Chi Minh City still requires arrivals from Da Nang to test for COVID-19 and quarantine at designated sites for 14 days. Additionally, 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 controls if new COVID-19 activity increases further.

Travel Restrictions
While short-term trips to Vietnam for leisure purposes remain banned, officials have started to reissue electronic visas to foreign nationals from 80 locations, including Australia, mainland China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, the UK, and the US. Officials have approved visa extensions through Sept. 30 for foreigners already in Vietnam.

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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