The Vietnamese government has decided to extend the social distancing period in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and nine other provinces by another week after April 15, labeling these as “high-risk” localities most susceptible to a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Earlier the same day, the National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control had announced three risk-based categories for cities and provinces in the Southeast Asian country, based on which differently tailored social distancing plans would be implemented from April 16.
According to the COVID-19 committee’s categorization, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang are considered “high-risk” localities alongside the nine provinces of Lao Cai, Quang Ninh, Bac Ninh, Ninh Binh, Quang Nam, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Tay Ninh, and Ha Tinh.
These localities will practice enhanced social distancing for another week, until the end of April 22, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Schools, stores, entertainment venues remain closed in these places while any gathering of more than two is banned in public spaces.
Travel restrictions are still in place, with people told to stay home except for trips outdoors for food, medications, and emergency care.
Meanwhile, “at-risk” localities include the cities of Can Tho and Hai Phong and the provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ha Nam, Kien Giang, Nam Dinh, Soc Trang, Thai Nguyen, Thua Thien-Hue, Dong Thap, Binh Phuoc, Nghe An, Lang Son, and An Giang.
The remaining 36 provinces in Vietnam are considered “low-risk” localities.
Social distancing rules are a little more relaxed in the last two categories, given the same one-week extension.
The categorization is based on risk factors including transportation infrastructure, traffic volumes, border length and border crossings, exposure to foreigners, population density, and density of factories and industrial zones.
All localities regardless of their risk category must strictly enforce regulations on wearing face masks in public, avoiding mass gatherings, keeping a two-meter distance in social interaction, and upholding hygienic standards.
Local governments have the authority and responsibility to take additional measures based on their own condition and risk level to make sure both epidemic control and socio-economic development goals are met.
Political, economic, and social events are to be held only under absolutely necessary circumstances and must follow established guidelines on health monitoring for safety.
For “at-risk” and “low-risk” localities, some manufacturing and business activities are allowed to resume after April 15 on the condition that epidemiological safety measures are taken.
Vietnam was poised to complete 15 days of nationwide increased social distancing on April 15 as per a prime minister directive issued on March 31.
The administrations of Ho Chi Minh City and seven other localities had suggested the social distancing measures be in place until the end of this month.