Vietnam Business Operations and the Coronavirus: Updates
This article will be updated as further developments in Vietnam become available.
- As of March 26, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 148 cases of COVID-19. 19 cases were announced on March 22 itself – the biggest single day total.
- Authorities in Hanoi on March 25 ordered the closure of non-essential businesses like bars, night clubs, movie theaters, and karaoke clubs until May 4. Necessities like food, medicine, and fuel stations will remain open.
- Ho Chi Minh City authorities have ordered the closure of all restaurants (with a capacity of 30 people or more), gyms, beauty salons, barbershops from March 24 to March 31.
- All Vietnamese carriers have suspended international routes from March 25.
- Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone faces production delays due to Vietnam’s restrictions on South Korea. However, around 180 Samsung Display employees were allowed following an agreement with both governments. In addition, Samsung and LG plan to send 430 engineers to support operations in Vietnam on chartered flights.
- Vietnam has stopped exporting rice from March 24 to ensure national food security.
- Ford Motor Company will temporarily suspend production in Vietnam from March 26.
- All international airlines have been asked to stop transporting overseas Vietnamese to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City from March 25 to March 31 to prevent overcrowding at quarantine facilities.
- Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners from March 22 to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats and officials as per Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
- The Prime Minister also ordered the suspension of all international flights, though it’s unclear exactly when this will take effect.
- The Health Ministry has advised all arrivals from March 1 to self-isolate at home if they have not been quarantined in a centralized zone in the past 14 days.
- Public transport passengers are required to fill out health declaration forms. These include travelers on long-haul buses, trains, tourist boats, and domestic flights.
- The government has also asked religious organizations to cancel religious festivals, activities, and conferences that attract large crowds as a precaution.
- Vietnam and Cambodia have closed their borders from March 20 to further prevent the spread of the epidemic. The measures do not apply to official and diplomatic passports.
- Vietnam Airlines will suspend all international routes in a phased manner by March 25 until April 30. VietJet will suspend ASEAN routes from March 20.
- Vietnam’s military is expanding quarantine facilities for up to 60,000 people as thousands of Vietnamese return home from virus hit countries. The government will also use university dormitories to meet the demand should it be required. In light of the arrivals, authorities in Hanoi have urged residents to stay home.
- Vietnam plans to issue several incentives for businesses affected by COVID-19.
- From March 18, Vietnam stopped issuing new visas to all foreign nationals for 30 days in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Travelers from countries with visa exemptions will only be allowed if they can show medical documents certifying they are free of the virus. The suspension also does not apply to diplomats and those entering on government business, however, they will be required to follow quarantine protocols.
- In addition, all travelers from the US, Europe, and ASEAN countries will be required to undergo medical checks and a 14-day quarantine when entering Vietnam.
- Nearly 7,000 passengers entered Vietnam airports on March 18. These included mostly locals returning to the country as well as some foreigners. Travelers came from Europe as well as ASEAN countries.
- Vietnam is set to officially export 7,500 COVID-19 test kits to Ukraine and Finland. Other European countries have also shown interest.
- Vietnam Airlines will temporarily suspend flights between Vietnam and Malaysia until the end of March from March 18. In addition, flights between Vietnam and France have been indefinitely suspended.
- As of 12:00 pm on March 15, Vietnam suspended all visas and will deny entry to travelers from the UK and the 26 Schengen countries; this includes travelers that have visited or transited through these countries in the past 14 days. This will be effective for 30 days.
- In addition, Vietnam has suspended visa on arrival for all foreign nationals except for those on official or diplomatic trips. Those who currently hold visas to enter Vietnam will need to undergo screenings and may be quarantined when entering the country.
- Ho Chi Minh City officials have announced restrictions on organizing meetings attended by over 1,000 people. In addition, all bars, clubs, cinemas, massage parlors, karaoke shops, and online gaming centers will be closed from 6:00 pm on March 15 until March 31. Officials in Hanoi have implemented similar measures until March 31.
- Vietnam railway authorities have suspended several domestic routes from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from March 16.
- Authorities in Binh Duong and Long An provinces have shut down all entertainment facilities such as cinemas, discos, massage parlors, and karaoke clubs.
- Health officials announced changes to mass lockdowns – they would enforce a small-scale lockdown applicable to households in the immediate vicinity of confirmed patients.
- Vietnam has mandated that people wear face masks at crowded places such as airports, bus stations, supermarkets and on public transport.
- The Formula 1 (F1) Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi scheduled for April 5 has been postponed due to the epidemic.
- Authorities have shut several tourist sites in Hanoi as well as Hoi An. All tourist activities in Quang Ninh province have also been suspended.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11 declared COVID-19 as a pandemic which is an “epidemic occurring worldwide” as per the WHO. To put this in context, the latest pandemic was declared in 2009 caused by the H1N1 swine flu.
- From March 12 to March 26 tourist attractions such as Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Yen Tu Complex will be closed to visitors.
- Vietnam Airlines stated that all flights from London and Frankfurt will be suspended from March 15 but reversed the ban allowing passengers meeting strict requirements to board flights.
- Two communes – Viet Hai and Gia Luan in Hai Phong were put under lockdown on March 9 after a British tourist with the virus visited there. This is in addition to four residential areas already under lockdown.
- Authorities have restricted all foreigners from the tourist destination of Ly Son island in Quang Ngai province from March 9. Vietnamese tourists entering the island will have to fill out health declarations. In addition, authorities have also barred tourists from Cham islands, off the coast of Hoi An from March 10.
- Vietnam launched a mobile app that will allow all Vietnamese to declare their health status. The government has urged citizens to update their health status on the app.
- Around 300,000 residents of Ha Long town were required to fill out health declaration forms from March 8 after 52 tourists traveled to Ha Long due to the epidemic.
- City authorities in Hanoi disinfected Truc Bach street where the first COVID-19 patient was detected, as well all main streets in Ba Dinh district as a precaution.
- The Vietnamese government is expected to unveil a credit package of US$10.8 billion and a fiscal package of US$1.3 billion in March for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
- Health authorities will require all passengers arriving from any country into Vietnam to fill out health declaration forms from March 7.
- The Vietnamese Prime Minister has asked ministers and government officials to consider canceling foreign trips to the epidemic.
- Instant noodle demand has surged by 67 percent due to the COVID-19 epidemic. This was preceded by mouthwash at 78 percent as per a market study by Nielsen Vietnam.
- Vietnam will produce 10,000 COVID-19 test kits daily after a successful pilot and approval from the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Ethnic Vietnamese from South Korean and Italy will longer be granted visa-free entry from March 8.
- From March 1, all flights from South Korea will not be allowed to land at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City airports, instead they will be directed to Van Don (Quang Ninh province) and Can Tho airports for processing and quarantining of passengers.
- Vietnam on February 29 suspended the visa-waiver program for South Korean nationals. In addition, all incoming travelers from South Korea will be subject to a mandatory 14-day isolation.
- Vietnam Airlines and low-cost carrier Vietjet will temporarily suspend all flights to and from South Korea from March 5 and March 7 respectively. Earlier on February 26, Bamboo Airways had suspended all flights to and from South Korea.
- High school students in 58 provinces resumed classes from March 2, while elementary school students will resume classes on March 8. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City schools are expected to remain closed until the end of March.
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on February 27, removed Vietnam from the list of destinations vulnerable to community transmission of COVID-19 citing Vietnam’s comprehensive actions against the epidemic. The CDC will also send a delegation in March to enhance medical cooperation between the US and Vietnam. It also plans to establish a CDC regional office in the country.
- Vietnam’s Prime Minister has ordered the tax authorities to reschedule tax payments to support businesses affected by COVID-19.
- Vietnam and China have agreed to reopen further border crossings to ease restrictions and normalize trade. Several border crossings in Quang Ninh, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Lang Son, and Ha Giang have reopened. However, backlogs remain, and other border crossings remain closed.
- Khanh Hoa province, home to the tourist destination of Nha Trang has been declared COVID-19 free as of February 26. The province has not reported any COVID-19 cases since February 4. Despite the epidemic, Russian tourists have continued to visit the tourist destination of Nha Trang with just a slight dip compared to last year in the same period.
- Vietnam’s labor ministry announced that it will stop issuing new work permits to foreigners who come from areas hit by COVID-19.
- Vietnam’s civil aviation authority suspended all flights to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan on February 1. However, the authority lifted the ban for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan from February 2. Flights to and from mainland China (including transit) remain suspended.
- The northern province of Cao Bang, which shares its border with China has run out of rooms for quarantining people for those returning from China. Authorities there have had to send patients to neighboring provinces of Bac Kan and Thai Nguyen for isolation. Around 700 Vietnamese that arrived from China between February 4 and 22 have been kept in isolation in Cao Bang.
- Up to 300 businesses in Vietnam have temporarily suspended operations while others have downsized due to the outbreak.
- The novel coronavirus has been renamed as COVID-19 as per the World Health Organization (WHO). The Co and Vi come from coronavirus, with D meaning disease and 19 for 2019.
- The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has announced a list of medical supplies including masks, dry hand sanitizers, filters, epidemic prevent suits, among others exempt from tax until the epidemic ends.
- Dezan Shira & Associates‘, Trent Davies, Manager of our Ho Chi Minh City office, spoke at an AmCham Vietnam event Impact of Novel Coronavirus on Your Health and Business in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. During the event, Trent discussed the broad economic impact of the epidemic in Vietnam, especially in vulnerable industries such as education and tourism. A full summary can be found here.
- Vietnam issued Decision No.173.QD-TTg declaring coronavirus as an epidemic – in line with the World Health Organization’s declaration of the virus as a global health emergency.
- The government has ordered the health ministry to supervise and early detect infected cases, monitor border crossings, airports, and seaports, particularly for passengers coming from affected areas.
- Vietnam stopped issuing visas for Chinese tourists on January 30 as a temporary measure. Foreign visitors who have visited mainland China (including transit) in the past 14 days from arrival will also be denied entry into Vietnam.
- Passenger train services between Vietnam and China have been suspended until further notice, however freight train services between the two countries continue to operate.
- The labor ministry has also asked businesses to keep names and other information of Chinese and foreign workers who have visited virus affected areas. In addition, they must be quarantined for two weeks for health checks.
- Vietnam’s airports have been ordered to deploy additional personnel and coordinate with local health agencies to deploy body temperature scanning equipment as well as a screening of passengers.
- Building management of apartment buildings in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have begun body temperature checks for people entering the building. Ho Chi Minh City officials have asked building authorities to strengthen preventive measures at apartment buildings.
Impact and Summary
Vietnam has currently declared 148 cases of the coronavirus infection; however, we have concerns that more cases will arise. Travelers from epidemic affected areas will face additional checks and screening.
As mentioned earlier, 17 of the patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals. However, Vietnam has quarantined 1,643 suspected cases of the virus as a precaution. Suspected cases are those people that have returned from epidemic areas or have had direct contact with returnees from epidemic areas and show symptoms as per the Ministry of Health.
The virus’s symptoms are respiratory and seem to start with a fever, cough, and shortness of breath gradually. However, in serious cases, it can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death.
There is currently no vaccine, so patients are being treated for their symptoms.
Vietnam’s health ministry has further stated that the fatality rate of the virus is 2 percent as compared to the 9.6 percent of the SARS virus in 2002-2003.
Recent developments indicate that travelers may have already been infected but not realized it – the virus appears to have a non-symptomatic 7-14 day incubation period. Further border checks and other movement restrictions are possible given the rapidly evolving developments.
Businesses operating in Vietnam need to prepare for an escalation of the coronavirus in Vietnam and be ready for measures taken by the authorities to get enforced with little or no notice.
We recommend businesses in Vietnam contact their staff to ascertain where they are and discuss any regional or national advisories concerning travel. Staff experiencing any cough or flu-like symptoms should not return to the office or factory.
We are providing updates and advisories concerning ASEAN (as well as Vietnam) on this article here.
To prepare for business measures in Vietnam, we recommend reading through this article here, which contains advisory for businesses operating in China, but may also be required should an outbreak extend to affect businesses operating in Vietnam. We strongly advise precautionary measures begin to be taken.
While travel to Vietnam can continue, we recommend taking precautions and following advice from Vietnam’s Ministry of Health.
Basic precautions one can take to reduce their risk to the coronavirus as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) are:
- Wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub;
- Cover nose and mouth with tissues or inside of elbow when coughing or sneezing;
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
- Thoroughly cook meat and eggs; and
- Avoid unprotected contact with live wild or farm animals
We will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Source: Vietnam Briefing