Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday decided to ease social distancing measures in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as the country has seen a slower infection rate of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since early this month.
The two cities, Bac Ninh Province, and Ha Giang Province are now classified as ‘at-risk’ regions, according to PM Phuc’s conclusion at a national teleconference.
Thuong Tin and Me Linh Districts in the capital are categorized as ‘high-risk’ localities, as there are still confirmed COVID-19 cases there.
The remaining 59 provinces and cities are classified as ‘low-risk’ areas.
Stringent social distancing rules will be eased in the ‘at-risk’ and ‘low-risk’ groups, with non-essential services and businesses to be reopened from Thursday, subject to conditions.
Safety measures must be taken to prevent any infection and to let people gradually adapt to ‘a new normal,’ the prime minister said, referring to life when the disease has not been completely eradicated given the absence of a proven drug and vaccine.
People are advised to avoid going out and duck crowds while they are still required to wear face masks when joining community activities, going to school, visiting markets, and traveling on the road.
Everyone is recommended to frequently wash their hands and maintain a minimum distance in social interaction.
Authorities in the ‘at-risk’ category are authorized to decide on the reopening of non-essential stores and street businesses, depending on the epidemic’s developments, but safety has to always come first.
In the other group, non-essential stores and services will be permitted to open again as long as safety measures and a physical distance are maintained between customers. The owners will be held accountable.
The prime minister will issue a new directive detailing all the relaxed measures, the government’s online newspaper reported.
PM Phuc warned that everyone should still be wary and no one should become complacent about the deceleration of infection rates in Vietnam, apparently thanks to an enhanced social distancing policy applicable from April 1 until the end of April 22.
Vietnam will continue to quarantine all arrivals from foreign regions and deny entry to all foreigners, in a bid to bar imported cases.
The country has reported 268 COVID-19 infections so far, 223 of them having recovered.
It has registered no new cases for sixth days in a row, with the infection rate having significantly slowed since April 4.
No virus-related fatality has been reported to date.