The Food Safety Management Authority of Ho Chi Minh City has drafted a list of criteria for F&B facilities to offer sit-down service safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The list, which includes a total of six criteria, has been submitted to the municipal People’s Committee for approval.
Local eateries must have a legitimate food safety certificate and must be equipped with hand sanitizers and hand dryers or disposable hand towels, according to the tentative requirements.
Although there are no specific regulations on distancing and opening hours, the set of criteria stipulates that employees, delivery workers, and customers must strictly follow the instructions of health authorities in the prevention and control of COVID-19.
This means that staff members and diners would be required to file health declarations and present their vaccination QR codes, an official told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, adding that COVID-19 testing is not yet necessary.
Eateries have to prepare for various pandemic scenarios and be responsible for implementing pandemic response measures while in operation.
Depending on the risk level of each district, local health authorities will require these establishments to limit the number of employees and customers.
In addition, eateries must not use air conditioners or serve beer and alcohol.
Alcohol will cause people to engage in more conversations, posing a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, said Pham Khanh Phong Lan, head of the city’s Food Safety Management Authority.
“Designated agencies in each district will carry out regular inspections of food and beverage businesses and impose stern penalties if any violations are detected,” Lan continued.
Ha Binh Kha, owner of a restaurant in Go Vap District, told Tuoi Tre on Sunday that he was finally able to restart his business after months of ‘hibernation.’
Kha said he had ordered dozens of kilograms of meat and vegetables as well as tidied up the kitchen to get ready.
“I don’t expect to welcome a lot of customers, but dine-in service will certainly be more profitable than takeaway,” he said.
Ngo Van Thanh, another restaurant owner in Binh Thanh District, disagreed with the ban on beer and alcohol.
“People can drink coffee and talk with their friends for hours. Why is alcohol banned but not coffee?” Thanh wondered.
Ho Chi Minh City has been the biggest epicenter in the country since the fourth outbreak began on April 27, with over 425,000 local cases.
Infections have slowed down over the past few weeks, as the majority of the city’s adult population have been given at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The municipal authorities had implemented various social distancing levels since May 31 before relaxing restrictions on October 1, but dine-in service was still prohibited.