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Internal migrant workers congest Ho Chi Minh City's entrance as coronavirus restrictions ease

Internal migrant workers congest Ho Chi Minh City's entrance as coronavirus restrictions ease

Friday, October 01, 2021, 14:25 GMT+7
Internal migrant workers congest Ho Chi Minh City's entrance as coronavirus restrictions ease
Domestic migrant workers wait to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, September 30, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

News of Ho Chi Minh City relaxing social distancing measures prompted hundreds of domestic migrant workers to pull up at an exit from the city in Binh Chanh District in the hope of leaving on Thursday evening, though many were not allowed through.

Earlier this week, Ho Chi Minh City announced a new social distancing directive that allows many businesses and social activities to resume after four months of lockdown, creating a ‘new normal’ for the city.

Functional forces began removing COVID-19 barricades from hundreds of alleys across the southern city on Monday, but the 12 checkpoints at the city’s entrances and 39 others in areas bordering nearby provinces will remain active in order to ensure safety for the key southern economic region in general.

Following reports of the new rules, many internal migrant workers from the Mekong Delta set out to leave Ho Chi Minh City on motorbikes after they had been stuck there for months, facing job losses and struggling to pay bills and rent.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of them showed up at a city gateway in Binh Chanh District’s Tan Tuc Town in an attempt to head home, only to find out that the entrance was still closed.

A police officer guards a COVID-19 checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, September 30, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A police officer guards a COVID-19 checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, September 30, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Police distribute banh mi as breakfasts for waiting immigrants who seek to leave Ho Chi Minh City through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, October 1, 2021. Photo: Dan Thuan / Tuoi Tre

Police distribute 'banh mi' as breakfasts for waiting domestic migrants who seek to leave Ho Chi Minh City through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, October 1, 2021. Photo: Dan Thuan / Tuoi Tre

After meeting little success in spending hours attempting to persuade migrant workers to disperse, local police called for five representatives from the crowd, who got a chance to plead their case at the next checkpoint in Long An Province.

Once Long An authorities allowed these five to pass, others waiting at the Ho Chi Minh City checkpoint would also be able to go through, the officers promised.

However, the congestion remained in several more hours, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalists reported from the scene.

Immigrants give up after waiting for hours to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, September 30, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Domestic migrants give up after waiting for hours to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, September 30, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Immigrants wait to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, October 1, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Domestic migrants wait to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, October 1, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Immigrants wait to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, October 1, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Internal migrants wait to get through a checkpoint in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, October 1, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Speaking with Tuoi Tre, Colonel Tran Thanh Giang of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Public Security said the city police will work with the municipal Department of Transport to bring internal migrants from checkpoints to their home provinces in the Mekong Delta.

According to Giang, police officers have listed 600 people at the Tan Tuc gateway who wished to leave the city and will transport them, along with their motorbikes, to their desired destinations.

On Friday morning, officers were mobilized to the gateway to divide the migrants into groups based on their destinations, as well as to distribute breakfast and bottled water.

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