Press Room
Covid-19 Update - Vietnam eases social distancing domestically and begins fight for economic recovery

27 - 04 - 2020
Indochine Counsel Press Release

Last Wednesday, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced that Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, most of Hanoi, and all but two of the provinces were to be removed from the high-risk category in the fight against Covid-19. On Saturday, 26 April 2020, he issued Directive No. 19/CT-TTg on continued measures for prevention and control of Covid-19 (“Directive 19”).

While it doesn't necessarily replace Directive 16—which instituted Social Distancing throughout the country for three weeks ending 22 April—it does succeed it, and offer guidelines for moving forward now that Vietnam has essentially contained the first wave of Covid-19 infections.

Directive 19 divides localities into three categories: high, medium, and low risk. Each area has a different set of restrictions and those few that remain—or are later reclassified as—high risk must continue to abide by the guidance of Directive 16. In general, however, moving forward the country is expected to follow the below procedures:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap or other disinfectants, wear masks when going out and maintain a reasonable distance in making contact with others, not to gather in large crowds in public places or outside workplaces, schools or hospitals.
  • All festivals, religious gatherings or sporting events or any event that involves large crowds will continue to be banned.
  • Non-essential service businesses such as entertainment venues, beauty salons, karaoke bars, massage parlors, bars, pubs and discos will remain closed.
  • Retail and wholesale stores, lotteries, hotels, accommodation businesses, restaurants and eateries, sport centers, historical relics and tourist sites can resume operations but must implement preventive measures such as providing employees with protective gear, record temperatures of all arrivals, comply with hand washing and disinfection guidelines and ensure safe distance between customers.
  • Public transport, including inter-provincial transport, is allowed to resume.
  • Schools can re-open, but the school administration must reduce the number of students in each class to maintain safe distance, alternate schedules to reduce crowds in classes or canteens, frequently disinfect classrooms, and continue to incorporate online lessons if available.
  • Factories and manufacturing businesses can start operations, while making sure that workers are protected.
  • No gatherings of more than 20 people in public places or outside the office, schools or hospitals are allowed, and a safe distance of 1m must be maintained.

Now that the first wave of infections has been contained successfully, PM Phuc included economic measures in Directive 19 so as to restart the economy while coping with Covid-19. According to the directive, the line ministries are to expedite export contracts with member countries under the EVFTA, ensure all necessary protocols and goods are in sufficient supply to be ready for when European countries start to lift lockdown measures and open their economies. They are also to ensure that the supply and supply chain of raw materials is cleared to support inputs for production of exports.

In addition to a focus on exports, the line ministries are to take measures to develop the domestic market. They are to prepare stimulus measures and encourage the increase of consumption by citizens—especially e-commerce and retail systems. Essential goods must be in full supply, while domestic tourism can resume. Social measures of support for citizens that were instigated during the Covid-19 crisis are to be completed and social welfare and aid are to be distributed to the right people, ensuring transparency and in a timely manner. The Ministry of Health continues to boost information technology in tracing contacts and identifying ones that stand at elevated risks of infection, while dealing with local outbreaks. The ministry was also tasked with developing guidelines on Covid-19 safety measures for manufacturers, service industries and transport businesses.

In addition to actions directly aimed at restarting Vietnam's economic growth, the ministries are to focus on continued and specific actions to ward against reinfection and a second wave of Covid-19. The Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to carry out entry restrictions and strictly manage all cases of entry, ensuring that all arrivals will be held in quarantine for 14 days as per guidelines. And the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Health, and the people’s committees of localities are to “implement quarantine protocols and focus on improving the conditions of concentrated quarantine sites.”

In the end, Directive 19 marks a new direction for Vietnam's fight against Covid-19. No longer is strict social distancing the norm, but now the country is primed to begin the arduous climb from the economic disaster of lockdown to a resumption as a regional powerhouse of GDP growth and an increasingly important exporter globally. If you have any questions about Directive 19 or how Covid-19 may affect you legally in Vietnam, please feel free to contact us.

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