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Slow travel pass issuance cuts footfall as Da Nang loosens COVID-19 restrictions

Slow travel pass issuance cuts footfall as Da Nang loosens COVID-19 restrictions

Thursday, September 16, 2021, 17:48 GMT+7
Slow travel pass issuance cuts footfall as Da Nang loosens COVID-19 restrictions
Phan Thi Ngoc Hong (red hat) prepares goods at her store in Lien Chieu District, Da Nang, Vietnam, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

Businesses in Da Nang saw few customers on Thursday, the first day that the central Vietnamese city imposed less restrictive social distancing requirements to allow more people to go out for necessity shopping, as the issuance of travel passes was far behind demand.

Da Nang authorities have permitted people in green and yellow zones, or COVID-19 safe and low-risk areas, to go grocery shopping by themselves instead of relying on authorized individuals in their residential areas starting Thursday.

As decided by the municipal administration on Tuesday, each household would be provided with a quick response code as a travel pass so one person could go shopping for food and essential goods every five days.

However, Thursday saw stores empty of customers as most people had yet to have a travel pass as planned.

Nguyen Huu Thang, the owner of a garage on Ton Duc Thang Street in Lien Chieu District, said that his staff were only repairing cars that had been sent to his place before the social distancing period.

The staff members could not visit customers’ places to check their cars, Thang said, as the workers only obtained passes for traveling between their homes and the workplace.

His customers, similarly, failed to get a travel pass to drive their cars to the garage.

Workers repair a car at a garage in Lien Chieu District, Da Nang, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

Workers repair a car at a garage in Lien Chieu District, Da Nang, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

“The city allowed garages to reopen but didn’t let people go out [without travel passes], so I have no idea how my garage should operate,” Thang complained. 

“Customers have contacted me several times over the past few days, but I cannot provide full services as before.”

Phan Thi Ngoc Hong, who runs a small shop selling vegetables in the same district, said that she still asked teams organized by neighborhood leaders to help her deliver goods to customers following its reopening on Thursday as no guests visited the shop in person.

“I only have a pass to travel between my home and the store, thus I have to ask neighborhood leaders and their authorized teams or delivery workers to help transport goods to customers, which results in high costs,” Hong said.

“I think people should be allowed to go out for grocery shopping within their areas without travel passes."

Staff members prepare ingredients for the reopening of a ‘pho’ store in Hoa Khe Ward, Thanh Khe District, Da Nang, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

Staff members prepare ingredients for the reopening of a ‘pho’ store in Hoa Khe Ward, Thanh Khe District, Da Nang, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

In Hoa Khe Ward, which is currently marked as a green zone in Thanh Khe District, the number of takeout orders that restaurants received on Thursday even paled in comparison to the total number of eateries.

While restaurant owners had to buy ingredients at high prices to reopen their stores, customers were reluctant to purchase takeouts by themselves due to traveling obstacles, but opted for delivery services, according to Huynh Thi Sen, who runs a noodles store on Ha Huy Tap Street.

The majority of store owners also complained that the application of travel passes in green zones is unnecessary and challenging to business operations.

During a short discussion with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday, Dinh Viet Hong Le, chairman of Hoa Khe Ward, said that only 670 travel passes have been issued so far, accounting for a small portion of tens of thousands of households in the ward.

Le added that he was still waiting for further instructions from the city administration.

Workers prepare takeouts at a noodles store in Thanh Khe District, Da Nang, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

Workers prepare takeouts at a noodles store in Thanh Khe District, Da Nang, September 16, 2021. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

Da Nang had ordered everyone to shelter in their places from August 16.

Before that, the city had imposed the prime minister’s stringent Directive No. 16, which prohibits people from leaving the home except for buying food or medicines and working.

In the ongoing wave that broke out in Vietnam on April 27, it has recorded more than 4,800 community infections.

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