Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Vietnam removes isolation rules for some foreigners who visit for less than 14 days as of Sept. 3. Domestic, entry restrictions ongoing.

Alert Begins 03 Sep 2020 08:42 AM UTC
Alert Expires 02 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 adjust measures as of Sept. 3 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials have removed isolation rules for foreign experts, business managers, investors, and diplomats who are visiting Vietnam for less than 14 days. Authorities continue to require these foreign nationals to comply with other health protocols, such as 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 masks, complete health declaration forms before the trips, and frequently sanitize their hands. However, areas with COVID-19 activity may implement additional transport restrictions. The government continues to order local authorities nationwide to quarantine people arriving from Da Nang 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 enact stricter localized measures, including quarantine at government-designated facilities, for returnees from Da Nang.

Strict localized controls remain in place in other parts of Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, though some areas have eased protocols due to decreased local COVID-19 activity. The central government has given provincial or city authorities discretion to modify curbs to local conditions. Da Nang continues to suspend nonessential businesses, travel to and from the city, and public gatherings of over two people. In several places, including Ho Chi Minh City, people who have had contact with known COVID-19 cases or have arrived from areas implementing stricter distancing measures must undergo tests and quarantine at government-designated sites for two weeks. 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 ban festivals, religious events, sporting and other activities, and some nonessential services like beauty parlors, clubs, and bars. Local authorities in several places, including Phu Yen Province, have suspended tourism activities. In areas that tourism sites can operate, common protocols include requiring visitors and workers to use masks, sanitize their hands frequently, and maintain physical distancing. In various locations, including Ho Chi Minh City, people have to wear masks 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
Officials continue to bar entry for foreign nationals, with exemptions for essential and skilled workers and diplomats, among others. People who can enter Vietnam must test negative for COVID-19 before traveling and undergo a 14-day quarantine at government-run facilities at their own costs upon arrival, with exceptions; the government announced that arriving diplomats are exempt from having to pay for quarantine expenses. 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. Officials have approved visa extensions through Sept. 30 for foreigners already in Vietnam. 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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