Bars and pubs in Vietnam reopen after lockdown


Nightlife activities in cities such as Saigon and Hanoi have been at a standstill since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now that Vietnam has just reported its 25th day in a row with no new community cases of COVID-19, this is a sign that the country has the pandemic under control and is ready to return to normalcy.

As the country lifts movement restrictions gradually, many businesses that are not essential businesses are given the go-ahead to resume operations. Following the gradual relaxation, bars and pubs are now getting ready to reopen their doors.


A long wait for the reopening of bars and pubs


While the rule on nationwide social distancing was lifted on 23rd April, recreational businesses such as bars and pubs were only allowed to open from 8th May onwards.

One of the main causes for the stricter measures targeting night entertainment hubs is Buddha Bar & Grill, a COVID-19 cluster in District 2. 13 people in this cluster had tested positive after attending a St. Patrick’s Day party on 14th March. Case 91, a British pilot who joined the party, is currently in critical condition.

Indika Saigon
Indika Saigon, a pub in District 1 (Ho Chi Minh City), sold takeaway rum punch during business suspension
Image credit: Indika Saigon

Since then, mass gatherings at any venue, such as sports, games, entertainment, or worshipping, were strictly prohibited, lest a new cluster emerge.

The long delay in reopening caused many recreational businesses to suffer revenue losses and have to let staff go. To stay afloat during the period of suspension, some bars and pubs sold packaged drinks or livestreamed their performances on social media regularly to continue earning some revenue and keep clientele interested.


Health and hygiene measures in place


The long and difficult wait is almost over, as the updated guidelines on COVID-19 allow the remaining business sectors to reopen, except for dance clubs and karaoke.

In response, bars and pubs in major cities have been putting out reopening announcements.

Hem bia Lost in Hongkong
Image credit: Hẻm Bia: Lost in HongKong

Bars and pubs are welcoming partygoers back cautiously. On their social media pages, they have been sharing photos of themselves taking every safety precaution possible before reopening, such as thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting their venues.

To ensure a higher level of safety, these establishments require all guests to have their temperatures measured and sanitize their hands at the door.

Khu 13 bar
Security guard at the Khu 13 bar taking the temperature of a guest
Image credit: Khu 13

Khu 13, a popular bar in Bui Vien, makes it mandatory for every guest to walk through its disinfection booth before entering the bar to help curb coronavirus transmission.

Khu 13 bar
A female guest stepping out of the disinfection booth
Image adapted from: Khu 13


Things will not be the same as they were before COVID-19


Things are looking up for the local entertainment business sector, as life in most parts of the country resumes.

Bui Vien
Bui Vien Walking Street, home to Saigon’s most vibrant nightlife before the COVID-19 lockdown
Image credit: Phố đi bộ Bùi Viện – Bui Vien Walking Street

However, recreation establishments are bracing for a low turnout in the foreseeable future as many people might still be hesitant to go out late at night and mingle with strangers. Besides, foreign tourists, who make up the bulk of guests at local bars and pubs, are still banned from entering Vietnam.

Nightlife establishments might not be able to recoup their losses any time soon, but the outlook is positive if things continue this way.


Continue to live daily life, but be cautious


So far, Vietnam has achieved great results in the prevention of COVID-19, thanks to its nationwide social distancing measures and quarantine strategies.

In order for our lives to go back to normal, we need to work together to keep each other safe. Let’s continue to keep taking precautionary measures, such as wearing masks in public and sanitizing our hands often. 

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Cover image adapted from: Hẻm Bia: Lost in HongKong

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