Vietnam will relaunch regular commercial international flights from and to destinations with high COVID-19 safety levels, after nearly two years of suspension due to the pandemic, according to a pilot plan that has been approved by the government.
At a meeting held on Thursday, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh approved the plan of Ministry of Transport to resume such flights from January 1, 2022, according to the Vietnam Government Portal.
The trial plan came amid the context that Vietnam has eased strict COVID-19 restrictions and reopened the economy under a strategy of living safely with the coronavirus since early October, around 20 months after the first COVID-19 cases were detected in the country.
Firstly, regular commercial flights will be relaunched from and to Beijing (China), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (South Korea), Taipei (Taiwan, China), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Vientiane (Laos), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and San Francisco or Los Angeles (the U.S.).
Deputy PM Minh directed the Ministry of Health to promptly issue epidemic prevention regulations and procedures applicable for air passengers entering Vietnam and collect suggestions from experts, airlines and the public soon.
All flights to be resumed must comply with these rules to ensure COVID-19 safety, the official said.
He also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with the health ministry, to speed up negotiations and reach agreements with other countries and territories on mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certificates, also called vaccine passports.
The ministries of Health, Public Security, and Information and Communications are required to work together to make available health declaration software applicable to air passengers.
The Ministry of Transport must guide airlines to restore regular international flights under the approved pilot plan and ask them to give feedback, Deputy PM Minh said.
This plan will help airlines recover their international passenger transport business, and contribute to the country’s economic and tourism recovery, so long as they must meet requirements on epidemic prevention and control, the Government Office said on Friday.
In addition, the flight resumption will offer favorable conditions for overseas Vietnamese to come back to the homeland to celebrate the coming Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, it said.
Due to the pandemic, the Vietnamese government has closed borders since March 2020, with an exception for Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts, diplomats, investors, skilled workers, and students, who are allowed to enter the Southeast Asian country if meeting strict quarantine requirements.
Recently, the country has gradually opened its borders to international visitors in a pilot scheme to revive the tourism industry, after deciding to live safely with the pathogen instead of pursuing a zero-tolerance COVID-19 approach.