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Bars, discos on Ho Chi Minh City’s famous 'backpacker street' sell veggies to make ends meet

Bars, discos on Ho Chi Minh City’s famous 'backpacker street' sell veggies to make ends meet

Thursday, October 07, 2021, 17:01 GMT+7
Bars, discos on Ho Chi Minh City’s famous 'backpacker street' sell veggies to make ends meet
A vegetable store is transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Owners of bars and discos on the popular Bui Vien ‘backpacker street’ in downtown Ho Chi Minh City have transformed into vegetable shops as a flexible business model to survive the ongoing COVID-19 suspension order.

City authorities have shuttered bars and discos, along with a number of other non-essential businesses and services, for five months to curb the fourth wave of coronavirus transmissions, which began in Vietnam on April 27.

The prolonged suspension has prompted businesses on Bui Vien Walking Street, located in a busy neighborhood populated with bars, pubs, discos, and beer joints for Western backpackers in District 1, to adapt to make ends meet.

“We still have to pay the rent, so we started importing vegetables and fruits from Da Lat [in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong] to sell,” said Pham Van Viet, the manager of a hotel and bar on Bui Vien that converted itself into a vegetable stall.

“We’re trying to make it through this COVID-19 wave while waiting to reopen [the hotel-bar business].”

The ad-hoc business was met with warm reception from local people.

“I understand that all facilities were originally bar and entertainment services with high rents, so I decided to come to buy vegetables here in order to give them some encouragement,” said Nguyen Thi Kim Hang, a resident of District 1.

People shop for fruit at a vegetable store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

People shop for fruit at a vegetable store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Ho Chi Minh City has been the hardest-hit locality in Vietnam since the beginning of its fourth virus wave on April 27, with more than 403,400 local infections and over 15,300 fatalities.

Infections have slowed down over the past few weeks, due in part to over seven million of its nine-million population having been given at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the national COVID-19 vaccination portal.

City authorities applied various social distancing levels in recent months before switching to Directive No. 18 from October 1 to continue preventing and controlling the pandemic while gradually reopening the economy.

A woman buys fruit from a vegetable store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A woman buys fruit from a vegetable store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A worker creates a price list at a vegetable store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A worker creates a price list at a vegetable store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Hong prepares vegetables at a store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Hong prepares vegetables at a store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A man buys vegetable from a store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A man buys vegetables from a store that was transformed from a bar on Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

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