Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Vietnam lifting strict COVID-19 social distancing measures in most areas as of April 24. Entry ban for foreigners remains in place.

This alert affects Vietnam

This alert began 24 Apr 2020 07:03 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
The government is lifting strict social distancing measures in most parts of Vietnam amid attempts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities are no longer classifying any province or municipality as a high-risk area; however, the designation may apply to specific districts or towns. Officials have categorized Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Bac Ninh and Ha Giang Provinces, as medium-risk areas; restrictions in these areas include capping gatherings outside workplaces at 10 people and requiring a physical distancing of two meters from one another. Authorities have designated all other provinces and municipalities as low-risk, with a 30-people limit to gatherings and a one-meter distancing rule. Religious services and public entertainment venues remain suspended in these medium- and low-risk areas, while nonessential businesses are still closed. Only several districts or towns, such as Me Linh and Thuong Tin districts in Hanoi and Ha Giang's Dong Van District, 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 also remains mandatory nationwide.

Authorities are also easing transport restrictions. Although most domestic flights remain suspended through April 30, the government is allowing additional flights for important routes, such as between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Officials have also permitted other routes to resume traffic. Train operators can restart services, with a maximum of three trains between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in each direction per day, while other routes can serve one train in each direction daily. Interprovincial bus routes can resume services but must limit passengers to 30-50 percent of capacity, depending on the risk level of the location. Public buses in Hanoi will operate up to half the passenger capacity, with a maximum of 20 passengers in each vehicle, while taxis can also resume operations. Nevertheless, some strict restrictions have remained in parts of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City continues to suspend passenger ground transport except for people performing essential official duties or delivering food.

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. State carrier Vietnam Airlines (VN) has also halted international flights through at least April 30. 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.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int