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Hanoi’s walking zone suspension backfires as crowds find alternative

Hanoi’s walking zone suspension backfires as crowds find alternative

Monday, August 24, 2020, 15:17 GMT+7
Hanoi’s walking zone suspension backfires as crowds find alternative
People gather on the bank around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Many residents in Hanoi spent last weekend on the bank around West Lake in Tay Ho District after the municipal authorities suspended the city’s weekend pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake in downtown Hoan Kiem District to prevent large gatherings due to the spread of COVID-19.

The capital city has suspended weekend activities in a pedestrian zone around downtown Hoan Kiem Lake starting Friday evening.

The indefinite suspension means that the lakeside streets will no longer become pedestrian-only on weekend nights or be allowed to host regular cultural and artistic activities that attract large crowds.

Despite the attempt to stop large gatherings of people, the crowds simply moved to West Lake instead.

People gather on the banks around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

People gather on the bank around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

In groups sitting close together, they shared drinks bought from sidewalk stalls and chatted, ignoring the capital’s appeal for residents to stay at home and avoid large gatherings.

Safety measures such as wearing face masks were also ignored by most of those spotted spending their weekend around West Lake.

“I am concerned about the pandemic but at the same time feel that it is none of my business. Not only me, but my friends also think the pandemic is almost under control, so I want to go out to enjoy the weekend. It’s probably okay,” said Hoai Nam, who is living in Ba Dinh District.

People gather on the banks around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

People gather on the bank around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Several sidewalk beverage stalls, which haven been suspended by Hanoi authorities to discourage people from gathering in public places, popped up around West Lake to cash in on the occasion.

“I rented this space [where my pop-up café is located] so what’s wrong with me selling [drinks] here? I have to make a living however the pandemic is,” said Kim H., the owner of a sidewalk stall on West Lake’s bank. 

H. refused to tell Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper whom she paid for the space.

The weekend also saw the sidewalk of the streets around West Lake, including Thanh Nien, Nguyen Dinh Thi and Trich Sai, and parts of the roadways turned into makeshift parking lots, causing traffic congestion on Sunday afternoon.

Traffic becomes congested on a street around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, as people disregard the city’s no-large-gathering appeal to avoid the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Traffic becomes congested on a street around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, as people disregard the city’s no-large-gathering appeal to avoid the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

People gather on the banks around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

People gather on the bank around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

People gather on the banks around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

People gather on the bank around West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, disregarding the city’s orders to avoid large gatherings to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), August 23, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

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