Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Vietnam lifting COVID-19 distancing rules on public transport from May 7. Entry ban for foreigners, other restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Vietnam

This alert began 07 May 2020 08:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 28 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

Authorities have lifted social distancing regulations for public transport nationwide from May 7 due to reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Buses, taxis, trains, ships, and planes can operate at full passenger capacity, though wearing masks remains compulsory for passengers. Other precautions include requiring passengers to complete health declaration forms and regularly sanitize their hands. The government previously allowed airlines to add additional flight capacity, especially on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route and services between Da Nang and 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 restarted 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.

The government has also lifted the strictest social distancing measures in most parts of the country. As of May 7, authorities are not classifying any province or municipality as a high-risk area. However, officials have designated Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and Bac Ninh and Ha Giang provinces as medium-risk areas. The government is 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 and public entertainment venues remain suspended in medium- and low-risk areas, while nonessential businesses are still closed. 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 also 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.

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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