Vietnam’s road to reopening after COVID-19


Starting from 23rd April, Vietnam has officially began resuming normal life and business operations after 23 days of mandatory nationwide social distancing.

With the COVID-19 growth curve continually being flattened ever since businesses began reopening, Vietnam’s authorities have decided to broaden the relaxation measures. 

From only a handful of businesses being allowed to operate in the beginning, nearly all business activities in Vietnam have been given the nod to reopen on 8th May. Here are the 8 signs that Vietnam is keeping COVID-19 under control, and is ready to get its economy back up.


1. Zero cases of community transmission


For the past month, the figures from the Ministry of Health have shown a constant decrease in the number of new COVID-19 infected cases, after the 21st March peak of 20 new cases a day.

COVID-19 Vietnam
Image credit: The Smart Local Vietnam

From 16th April onwards, the country has reported 0 cases of COVID-19 community transmission. Ever since that date,  all new cases were imported and quarantined upon the patients’ arrival.

Vietnam has not had any COVID-19 curve to flatten for the past 3 weeks, and is ready to proceed to the next phase of economic recovery.


2. Reopening of restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, beauty salons, hotels, and many others


As the lift on our nationwide lockdown took effect on 23rd April, food outlets, coffee shops, and retail stores were some of the first businesses to reopen their physical stores.

highlands coffee
Image credit: Highlands Coffee

For safety purposes, only a restricted number of businesses were allowed to reopen at first, with many other businesses remaining under suspension and with social distancing measures strictly enforced in the public.


California Fitness & Yoga Centers Vietnam disinfected ahead of gymmers’ return
Image credit: California Fitness & Yoga Centers Vietnam

2 days after the official relaxation of social distancing measures, businesses such as sports facilities, beauty salons, hairdressers, accommodation services, clinics, and many others were given approval to resume operations, subject to restrictions.


3. Domestic air routes reopened; no distancing on airplanes required


Airports are considered some of the most dangerous places right now where travellers are most at risk of contracting the coronavirus. The reopening of domestic air routes between major cities is, perhaps, the clearest evidence of Vietnam’s control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tan Son Nhat airport
Tan Son Nhat Airport
Image credit: @vietnamairlines.fanpage

Most airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Bamboo Air have scheduled more domestic flights in upcoming months as travel demand went up significantly after the lockdown.

Recently, Vietnam Airlines announced that it would resume all domestic flights in June, indicating that Vietnam’s aviation industry is going into overdrive to get back on its feet and the tourism industry will benefit from more domestic tourists too.

The government has also decided to ease the safe distancing rule on planes, allowing airlines to sell all available seats on each aircraft.

Despite the stable resumption of aviation activities, the country will continue to refuse entry to all visitors for the time being, except for Vietnamese citizens returning from abroad on flights arranged by the Ministry of Transportation.


4. Public transportation to resume operations


On 4th May, 72 buses in Ho Chi Minh City resumed operations to cater to the commuting needs of local residents and students, who also returned to schools on the same day.

Saigon buses
Image credit: @minhh__

Starting on 11th May, all buses in Ho Chi Minh City will resume operations to ferry commuters around the city after the month-long suspension and downsizing of services.

To ensure public health and hygiene, passengers will be asked to sanitize their hands before boarding, refrain from eating, and wear masks during the ride. All buses shall be disinfected and cleaned at the end of each day.


5. Students are back in schools


After the COVID-19 lockdown, students are now allowed to be back in school facilities.

Vietnamese students
Image credit: Phạm Thị Phương Linh‎

The first days of return to school life were not easy for many students as safety measures such as staggered school days, spreading desks apart, and wearing masks for the entire duration of each school day were strictly enforced.

Nonetheless, on 7th May, the Ministry of Education lifted the rule on wearing masks in class. The air-conditioning can also be switched on and social distancing inside classrooms is no longer compulsory.


6. Entertainment-related businesses exempted from suspension from 8th May onwards


The relaxation of the lockdown has not been an easy wait for those working in entertainment-related businesses such as bars, pubs, and cinemas.

According to the decision of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in a briefing on 8th May, such entertainment-related businesses, except for dance clubs and karaoke bars, are given the green light to resume operations.

Khu 13Khu 13, a pub in Bui Vien is going through disinfection and cleaning before reopening
Image credit: Khu 13

From now on, movie-lovers can finally go back to cinemas for escapism, and social butterflies can hit their favorite nightlife hubs to wind down and socialize after a month in isolation. This updated guideline means that Vietnam has only 2 business sectors remaining suspended to date: dance clubs and karaoke. 


7. Removal of social distancing measures in service establishments; mass gatherings can resume


As community transmissions remain at 0, the government has deemed it safe to remove social distancing measures in service establishments such as restaurants, beauty salons, clinics, or in vehicles such as  buses and airplanes.

This means these businesses can now operate at their full capacity assuming sanitization guidelines are followed.

San Fu LouImage credit: San Fu Lou

Mass gatherings are also approved to resume, under the condition that every participant is to wear masks and sanitize their hands.


8. Job openings in Vietnam are on the rise


During March and April, many Vietnamese workers suffered job losses and pay cuts as their companies struggled amid lockdowns.

However, things are on the up now for Vietnamese jobhunters as local businesses are speeding up recruitment now.

Jobstreet
Image credit: Jobstreet

As people go back to work and students return to schools, demand for manpower across various service sectors has increased. From F&B to banking, recruiters in different business sectors have been posting job listings on Facebook recruitment groups as well as websites to keep pace with business growth.

This is good news for local Vietnamese as more can go back to work and earn stable income.


Keep practicing safety measures


The joy of returning to normal life that we are enjoying today is the result of all of us abiding by the rules and practicing precautionary measures.

Even though safe distancing restrictions are eased, health authorities still advise Vietnamese people and all local residents to maintain personal hygiene to safeguard our well-being, such as sanitizing our hands regularly and wearing masks in public, at least until Vietnam is officially free of the coronavirus.

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Cover image credit: The Smart Local Vietnam

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