Vietnam Business Operations and the Coronavirus: Updates

Posted by Written by Dezan Shira & Associates Staff in Vietnam Reading Time: 23 minutes

This article will be updated as further developments in Vietnam become available. 

Latest Updates

  • As of June 23, 2021, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 13,782 cases of COVID-19. However, 5,546 of the affected patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. Vietnam has also recorded 69 deaths due to the pandemic. The latest community transmission cases have been reported from Ho Chi Minh City, Bac Giang, and Nghe An.

June 22

  • Hanoi authorities allowed indoor dining, drinking venues, and barbershops to reopen from June 22 after almost a month of closures. However, business establishments will have to abide by several restrictions such as 50 percent capacity and no more than 20 customers at a venue at a time.

June 21

  • Vietnam received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on June 20.

June 20

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities imposed stricter Directive 10 measures from June 20 to deal with the outbreak. These include the suspension of passenger taxis, ride-hailing taxis as well as public and interprovincial buses. The gathering of three or more people outside of workplaces and hospitals has been banned and people are required to only go out when necessary.
  • Da Nang authorities shut public beaches as well as dine-in eateries from June 20 after discovering 23 local infections after a month. Pick-up and delivery services are still allowed to operate.

June 17

  • Vietnam received 966,320 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a donation from Japan on June 16. Out of this 800,000 doses would be sent to Ho Chi Minh City, currently reeling from the outbreak.

June 16

  • Government authorities have allowed Ho Chi Minh City to purchase and import COVID-19 vaccines by itself to stem the increase of cases due to the current outbreak.

June 14

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities extended social distancing guidelines for another two weeks until June 30 due to the recent increase in cases. Go Vap district and District 12’s Thanh Loc Ward will now be under Directive 15 measures like the rest of the city. The developments come after the city recorded the highest number of daily cases on June 13.
  • Vietnam on June 12 approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

June 9

  • Da Nang authorities allowed the reopening of some outdoor activities easing restrictions from June 9. Restaurants, eateries, and barbershops were allowed to resume but with health protocols, while offices were allowed to bring in their employees. Public beaches were allowed to reopen though swimming is only allowed at certain designated times. The easing of restrictions occurred after Da Nang went 20 days without any community transmission cases.

June 4

  • Vietnam approved a COVID-19 vaccine by China’s Sinopharm for emergency use as per the Ministry of Health.

June 3

  • Civil aviation authorities lifted the ban on inbound international arriving flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City prematurely, though no reason for this was given.
  • Russia has agreed to provide 20 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine to Vietnam in 2021.
  • Binh Duong province, an industrial hub that borders Ho Chi Minh City imposed social distancing measures from June 2 in five towns until further notice. The move comes after the province recorded three community cases in Thuan An. Long An province also imposed similar measures on June 2.

June 1

  • Ho Chi Minh City has suspended commercial COVID-19 tests for those traveling abroad until further notice to focus resources on the local outbreak.
  • Ba Ria-Vung Tau authorities have closed beaches and initiated a swimming ban from June 1 until further notice.

May 31

  • Authorities in several provinces have suspended transport services to Ho Chi Minh City from May 31 following social distancing measures imposed in the city.
  • A list of places currently in lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City can be found here (in Vietnamese).

May 30

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities will impose social distancing measures starting from May 31 for two weeks due to a rise in the number of cases. Specifically, Go Vap district and Thanh Loc Ward in District 12 will be under stricter Directive 16 measures while the rest of the city will be under Directive 15 measures.
  • Directive 16 does not allow gatherings of two more people in public and asks people to only leave homes for emergencies, food, medicine, work in factories, and businesses that involve essential goods and services. Directive 15 requires the suspension of social events, bans the gatherings of 20 people or more in one place and 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools, and hospitals.

May 28

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities have ordered the suspension of most non-essential activities. These include restaurants, beauty parlors, barbers, spas, tourism sites, museums, walking streets, night markets, and parks from May 28 due to the latest outbreak. Homestay and Airbnb services are also suspended until further notice while religious activities with 10 or more people and other institutions are also suspended.
  • Restaurants that do operate will only be allowed takeaway and delivery services.
  • Ho Chi Minh City has suspended international arriving flights from May 27 to June 4 in a bid to contain the outbreak.

May 27

  • Da Nang authorities will allow taxis, ride-hailing cars, and motorbikes as well as two-wheeler delivery services to resume operations from May 28 after eight days of registering no new local infections.
  • At least 13 people belonging to a religious sect in Go Vap District of Ho Chi Minh City have tested positive for the virus. This includes a chef working at the Sheraton Hotel in District 1. The hotel has been temporarily blocked.
  • In light of this, Ho Chi Minh City authorities have restricted people from not gathering in groups of more than 10 people in public places.

May 26

  • Bac Giang province, the epicenter of the outbreak, is set to gradually reopen the four industrial parks that were ordered to shut down to ensure that jobs and supply chains are not significantly affected. The province is home to Samsung and Apple suppliers.
  • Quang Nam authorities reopened public beaches and Hoi An town from May 25 after going without any new community transmission cases in the past 14 days.
  • Vietnam received the fourth batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with 288,000 doses arriving in Ho Chi Minh City on May 25. 

May 25

  • Hanoi authorities have shut all dine-in services, barbershops, and salons from May 25 due to a spike in local infections. In addition, people returning to Hanoi from other areas must submit medical declarations within 24 hours.

May 22

  • In Ho Chi Minh City, small-scale restaurants and street food businesses are not allowed to offer dine-in services but just takeaway. Buses and taxis are only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, while religious gatherings with more than 20 people are suspended.

May 21

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities have banned the gatherings of more than 20 people at restaurants and at public places. Authorities also suspended express boat services from District 1 to Can Gio and Vung Tau.

May 20

  • Apple suppliers Foxconn and Luxshare have been forced to temporarily shut down their factories due to the outbreak in Bac Giang province. The measure will likely be in place for two weeks.
  • Vietnam plans to set up a US$1.1 billion fund to acquire 150 million vaccines for its population. The proposal has been submitted to the government for approval.

May 17

  • Vietnam received 1.7 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX program on May 16.

May 14

  • Hanoi authorities ordered the suspension of all physical and sports activities in public including golf courses from May 13.
  • Da Nang banned the gathering of more than five people in public and outside of offices and schools.
  • Ho Chi Minh City will re-establish 12 COVID-19 checkpoints at the entrances of the city from May 15.

May 12

  • Hanoi since May 11 ordered the closure of all beer parlors (bia hoi) and the banned the gathering of more than 10 people in one place outside of public offices, schools, and hospitals.
  • In addition, coffee shops, food courts, convenience stores, and eateries near COVID-19 outbreak areas such as the National Hospital for Tropical Disease in Dong Anh District have been ordered to temporarily shut down.

May 8

  • Da Nang authorities issued ‘market cards’ to each household, which is required when a resident visits a market from May 8. Each resident will be allowed to visit the market every three days. The plan is in place for 15 days and may be extended depending on the pandemic situation. 

May 7

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities have banned the gathering of more than 30 people from May 7. This includes gyms, wedding reception centers, yoga classes, and buffet restaurants among others.
  • Da Nang banned restaurants from dine-in services allowing them to only sell using take-out and delivery services from noon on May 7.

May 6

  • The Ministry of Health extended the quarantine period to 21 days from 14 days earlier as a precaution for foreign arrivals as well as those who come into contact with COVID-19 positive patients. This is effective as of May 5. The decision was made after several individuals tested positive after completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period previously.
  • Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city shut tourist attractions amid the recent surge in cases from May 6. Similarly, tourist attractions in Sapa have also been closed.

May 5

  • Vietnam’s Immigration Department has announced another automatic stay extension for foreigners stranded in Vietnam due to the pandemic until May 30, 2021. The measure applies to those who entered since March 1, 2020 allowing them to leave the country without any penalty or official procedures. Those that have entered prior to March 1, 2020 are also eligible provided they show documents by their embassies or by Vietnamese authorities to confirm they were quarantined or treated for COVID-19.
  • Hanoi authorities have shut down non-essential services from May 5 such as movie theaters, gyms, spas, and massage parlors. The development comes after the city recorded five domestic cases in five districts such as Dong Anh, Hai Ba Trung, Hoang Mai, Bac Tu Liem, and Me Linh.

May 4

  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities shut down movie theaters, massage parlors, and online game centers from May 3 while Hanoi also shut down sidewalk cafes and eateries in a bid to prevent and combat the pandemic. Schools have also been suspended in Hanoi. Similar measures have also been implemented in Da Nang and Quang Nam.
  • As a precaution, the Ministry of Health has temporarily extended the minimum 14-day quarantine to additional days as per health protocols and other factors.

April 30

  • As a precaution, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have shut all bars, nightclubs, and karaoke parlors from April 30.

April 20

  • UNICEF and the Australian embassy in Hanoi have announced a US$10.5 million package in delivery assistance of the COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam.

April 19

  • Vietnam is considering the implementation of vaccine passports for three groups of vaccinated people such as Vietnamese stranded abroad, foreign business travelers and foreign travelers. While the plan is in consideration, no date for the implementation has been set.

April 1

  • Flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines is expected to resume some international flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with South Korea, Japan, and Australia from April 3. Low-cost carrier Vietjet also resumed some international routes to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. However, only repatriated approved Vietnamese citizens and approved foreign experts will be allowed to enter Vietnam.

March 30

  • More than 46,000 people (healthcare and frontline workers) have been inoculated against the pandemic in Vietnam since Vietnam’s vaccination program began on March 8.

March 25

  • Vietnam plans to diversify its sources for COVID-19 vaccines among reported shortages in procuring the vaccine. The country was supposed to receive 1.1 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but is expected to receive 811,200 in mid-April due to production issues.

March 24

  • Vietnam has approved the use of Russia’s Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

March 8

  • Vietnam started vaccinations beginning with front-line workers and health care staff in 13 cities and provinces that have had an outbreak.

February 24

  • The first batch of 117,600 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on the morning of February 24.

February 23

  • The National Steering Committee announced that all Vietnamese people would get the vaccine for free; however due to limited supply initially, priority would be given to the 11 priority groups.

February 22

  • The Ministry of Health stated that 10 groups of people including health workers, police, military officers, and those over 65 years of age will be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

February 19

  • Vietnam is expected to import the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on February 28. Health authorities approved the import of 204,000 doses out of the 30 million approved shots.

January 29

  • The Ministry of Health also approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. While Vietnam was set to buy the vaccine as reported previously, the new outbreak has urged authorities to quicken the procurement of the vaccine to February.

January 28

  • The local case in Hai Duong was linked to a factory worker who tested positive for the UK variant of the virus after arriving for work in Japan. The second community case is an airport worker, employed at Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh. The airport has handled several repatriation flights and is likely to be the case for the worker testing positive.
  • The authorities have reported a further 100 cases on January 28 linked to the two community cases in Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, though these are yet to be updated on the Ministry of Health site. Contact tracing is underway. This is the largest reported caseload in a single day.
  • As a response, Quang Ninh and Hai Duong have suspended all public and passenger transport schools have also been suspended. Chi Linh City has also been placed under under social distance orders for 21 days.

January 8

  • Vietnam’s national trade union the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL) will support workers who have been affected by the pandemic and natural disasters in 2020 with up to VND 1-2 million (US$43-86) each for Tet – the Vietnamese New Year Holiday which begins on February 12.
  • Vietnam will limit inbound repatriation flights from January 10 until the end of the Lunar New Year Holiday in mid-February to limit the risks of the spread of the pandemic.
  • Vietnam’s General Statistics Office (GSO) reported that 1.3 million people nationwide lost their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic with most of them in the working age.
  • Vietnam has banned inbound flights from countries that have recorded the new COVID-19 variant such as the UK and South Africa. The list of countries that the ban applies to will likely be expanded in the coming days.

January 5

  • Vietnam is set to receive 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as per Deputy Health Minister Truong Quoc Cuong. The doses will be delivered throughout the year after Vietnam reached an agreement with the vaccine maker.

January 2-3, 2021

  • Heavy traffic was reported at the entrances of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on January 3, as people returned from the New Year holidays and festivities. Most new year’s eve gatherings in major cities were packed with crowds.
  • Vietnam reported its first case of the coronavirus variant from the UK on January 2. The patient was repatriated from the UK and quarantined on arrival.
  • Three of the confirmed cases are attributed to those illegally entering Vietnam with health authorities contract tracing and quarantining all F1 and F2 contacts.
  • Health authorities locked down four apartment blocks on Su Van Hanh Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5 after a man tested positive linked to the illegal entry case.
  • Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have allowed six additional hotels for quarantine for international arrivals in the districts of Tan Binh, Phu Nhuan, and District 7.

Developments in 2020

  • Human trials of Vietnam’s locally made COVID-19 vaccine began with 60 volunteers on December 17 in Hanoi.
  • Vietnam and the UK signed the UK-Vietnam free trade agreement (UKVFTA) on December 29, which paves the way for the elimination of virtually all customs duties once fully implemented.
  • Vietnam has agreed to allow South Korean business travelers to travel between both countries without completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine. The agreement is expected to take effect on January 1, 2021, though details are yet to be finalized. 
  • More than 3,200 people suspected to have come into contact with Ho Chi Minh City’s four community transmission cases have tested negative. Around 861 F1, 1,400 F2, and 1,002 other contacts have been put under supervision and monitoring.
  • Vietnam is expected to conduct the first phase of human trials of a locally made COVID-19 vaccine from December 17 as per the health ministry.
  • Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed a new Directive strengthening measures to contain the pandemic after the recent cases of local transmission. These include the wearing of face masks and using hand sanitizers, avoiding unnecessary gatherings, and strict quarantining for those returning from overseas.
  • Vietnam has temporarily suspended all inbound international commercial flights from December 1, except for repatriation flights, as a result of the new local community transmission cases.
  • As a result of the local transmission case, authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have tested 111 people. Businesses where the patient visited have also been closed as a precautionary measure.
  • Vietnam’s tourism sector is expected to lose up to US$23 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic as per Nguyen Ngoc Thien from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. 
  • Foxconn, Apple’s supplier, plans to establish a local company to expand production with an investment worth around US$270 million. The company plans to produce PC-related parts in a move to diversify its supply chains.
  • Apple has asked Foxconn to move some iPad and MacBook production to Vietnam’s Bac Giang province from China as it looks to diversify its supply chain as per Reuters.
  • To prevent travel scams, the Vietnamese government announced that it will publish a list of repatriation flights until the end of 2020. These will be published on the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry website https://lanhsuvietnam.gov.vn/default.aspx and the Ministry of Transport website https://www.mt.gov.vn/vn/Pages/Trangchu.aspx as well as the official websites of the relevant Consular Department.
  • The Ministry of Health recently issued Official Dispatch No. 5834/BYT-KH-TC on temporary guidance on COVID-19 tests costs for those wanting to leave the country. The cost for real-time PCR tests would be VND 734,000 (US$31) per individual and a quick test would be VND 238,000 (US$10) per individual. Based on these maximum prices, local authorities are allowed to decide prices for specific tests.
  • Vietnam and Japan have agreed to lift mandatory quarantine for short-term visits for businesspeople and officials from November 1. However, this will be done as per strict health protocols including testing and medical surveillance. Details of the protocols and procedures are yet to be released.
  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities have designated another 14 hotels to serve as paid quarantine facilities. The hotels will offer rooms at rates between US$52 to US$216 (VND 1.2-5 million). With the latest addition, Ho Chi Minh City will now have a total of 24 hotels serving as paid quarantine facilities. 
  • After two regular flights to South Korea, airlines have temporarily suspended regular international commercial flights between Vietnam and other international destinations as they wait for further detailed instructions and quarantine procedures from local authorities.
  • Singapore will unilaterally lift border restrictions to visitors from Vietnam from October 8 as it reported that Vietnam has successfully contained the pandemic. However, Vietnam will continue to main entry restrictions and only approve the entry of diplomats, high-skilled workers, and investors with strict health protocols.
  • International arrivals who opt to stay at government quarantine facilities are required to pay at least VND 120,000 (US$5) per day as quarantine costs since the recent ruling came into effect on September 1.
  • Taiwanese based Pegatron, manufacturer and supplier for major tech firms such as Apple, Microsoft, and Sony plans to invest US$1 billion in a manufacturing complex in Nam Dinh Vu industrial park in Hai Phong.
  • Ho Chi Minh City is preparing 27 additional hotels to be designated as paid quarantine facilities for those arriving in Vietnam. Hanoi currently has designated eight hotels as paid quarantine facilities.
  • The government on September 15 issued Notice No 330/TB-VPCP allowing Vietnamese carriers to resume international air routes with six countries – these are Guangzhou (China), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (South Korea), Taipei (Taiwan), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and Vientiane (Laos). However, incoming travelers will need to present a negative RT-PCR test three days before departure and test again on arrival in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam will hire private companies for testing passengers at the country’s airports in a bid to ease travel restrictions. The hiring of businesses will allow for quick tests for the convenience of passengers and the relevant authorities.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will open a regional office in Hanoi to increase public health engagement in Southeast Asia and monitor the spread of the pandemic.
  • Japan has pledged to give US$18.8 million in aid to four Vietnamese hospitals in Hanoi and Da Nang to help fight the pandemic. The funds will be released over 18 months beginning from August.
  • Vietnam has lifted the mandatory 14-day quarantine for foreign experts, investors, managers, and diplomats if they enter the country for less than 14 days. However, they must comply with all other health measures and must follow their scheduled itinerary. If after 14 days they wish to stay in Vietnam, they can do so without quarantining, provided they test negative for the virus.
  • Vietnamese authorities will start charging a quarantine fee for anyone entering Vietnam from September 1. However, the medical treatment of Vietnamese nationals in case they are infected by the pandemic will be covered by the state budget. Foreign nationals are required to pay for their own medical treatment.
  • Authorities in Hoi An lifted social isolation measures from August 28 after regaining control of the pandemic there. Similar restrictions in the nearby localities of Duy Xuyen district and Dien Ban town were also lifted.
  • Australia will contribute US$57.9 million to help secure COVID-19 vaccines for countries in Southeast Asia including Vietnam and the Pacific islands.
  • Vietnam has registered to buy between 50 million and 150 million doses of Russia’s ‘Sputnik-V’ COVID-19 vaccine, though it’s unclear when these will be delivered.
  • Businesses in Vietnam owed US$887.6 million in social insurance premiums due to the pandemic as of July 2020 as per Vietnam Social Insurance (VSI). 
  • Vietnam’s first community transmission case was reported after 99 days in Da Nang. It started with ‘Patient 416’ who tested positive without any travel history on July 25. It is still unclear how he contracted the virus.
  • As a precaution, Da Nang city authorities have announced 15 days of social distancing measures from July 28. As per the measures, residents in Hai Chau, Thanh Khe, Son Tra, Ngu Hanh Son, Cam Le, and Lieu Chieu districts are advised to stay home except for necessities such as food, medicine, and emergencies. Several streets were also placed under lockdown.
  • At least 15 Japanese firms have registered to move production to Vietnam under a government scheme to diversify the supply chain and reduce reliance on China.
  • A total of 3,953 South Korean nationals will be allowed into Vietnam from July 29 via special entry permits for business purposes as per the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
  • Several three to five-star hotels have been offered as paid isolation zones for foreign experts entering Ho Chi Minh City under special permission. The authorities have proposed 10 hotels include Le Meridien Saigon, Sheraton, and Norfolk in District 1.
  • Vietnam reported a 1.81 percent GDP growth in the first half of 2020 – its lowest since 2011, due to the pandemic as per the General Statistics Office (GSO).
  • Around 7.8 million workers lost their jobs or were furloughed due to the pandemic as per the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).
  • Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup is ready to start mass production of ventilators after receiving approval from the Ministry of Health. The first batch of commercial ventilators is expected to be handed over to the embassies of Russian and Ukraine on June 26.
  • Vietnam’s borders will remain closed to international tourists as per Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in order to prevent a second wave of the pandemic.
  • Vietnam shipped 30 million medical face masks on June 3 and June 6 to locations in North America.
  • The EU Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) came into effect on August 1. The FTA is expected to boost the country’s manufacturing sector and exports as it recovers from the pandemic. 
  • Vietnamese fruit exporters have been affected by the surging prices of air freight due to the limited number of commercial flights. Despite high demand, exports have fallen by half in the past two months with freight operators demanding two to four times the normal prices.
  • Vietnamese carriers resumed all domestic operations with national carrier Vietnam Airlines launching six new domestic routes. However, no date has been set to resume normal international operations.
  • The US became Vietnam’s leading export market between the January and May period with export turnover of US$24.6 billion, an annual increase of 8.2 percent. This is despite a fall of 17 percent year on year in FDI in the same period.
  • Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have asked hospitals to check the history of foreign patients’ entry into Vietnam and documents of mandatory quarantine completion before providing medical services.
  • Vietnam will grant e-visa to citizens of 80 countries from July 1, 2020 as per Resolution No. 79/NQ-CP. Details on the list of countries can be accessed here. While this is a positive sign, Vietnam’s borders remain closed to foreign visitors due to the pandemic.
  • Vietnam has shipped up to 2 million hand sanitizers to the US, Europe, and Canada. Another shipment of 4 to 6 million sanitizers is scheduled for late May.
  • Apple is set to produce its first ever over-ear headphones in Vietnam – this is the first time it will manufacture a brand-new product outside China.
  • Vietnam’s Immigration Department has announced that it will extend temporary residence permits for those that have entered before March 1 until the end of June 30. Foreigners that have entered on visa-free policies, e-visas, or tourist visas since March 1 will also be entitled to the same automatic extension program until June 30. Travelers can call the department for assistance at 0243.9387320.
  • Vietnam donated medical supplies worth US$240,000 to eight countries including Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. 
  • Around 4,300 Vietnamese are expected to be repatriated between May 18 and June 15 on special flights from Australia, Canada, South Korea, the UK, and the US.
  • Vietnam has approved the reopening of sub-border gates and border crossings in Lang Son and Quang Ninh provinces connecting with China to ease trade between the two countries.
  • The Deputy Minister of Health stated that Vietnam has conducted 275,000 COVID-19 tests as of May 12 or 2,000 daily tests.
  • More than 18,000 household businesses were forced to shutdown in Ho Chi Minh City in the first four months of the year as per the city’s Tax Department.
  • Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup will give 2,400 ventilators to Russia and Ukraine between May 15 and August 30.
  • The US will give Vietnam an aid package worth US$9.5 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Vietnam could miss its target of having one million businesses this year due to the pandemic causing many to shut down. However, the government has issued a financial assistance package for employers and employees. Details can be accessed here.
  • Vietnam’s locally made test kit for COVID-19 has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) after enduring five rounds of testing and quality assessments.
  • Vietnam ended the social isolation guidelines at the end of April 22, though restrictions will continue in some high-risk areas. While the social isolation guidelines in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have also been lifted, some restrictions continue to remain for bars, clubs, spas, theaters, sports centers, and others while the gathering of more than 20 people is prohibited. Restaurants and eateries that operate must comply with strict guidelines from local authorities.
  • Vietnam’s COVID-19 test kits have passed European standards and have been granted the CE marking and Certificate of Free Sale (CFS), allowing the test kits to be sold in the European Economic Area, including the UK.
  • Vietnam donated US$100,000 worth of face masks and medical equipment to Japan as well as 200,000 facemasks to the US to assist these countries in the fight against COVID-19.
  • 1,523 companies were dissolved in Ho Chi Minh City in the first quarter of the year as per the city’s municipal people’s committee.
  • Social distancing measures will be loosened in other areas of the country allowing some industries and businesses to resume operations from April 16. Nevertheless, all localities must still enforce regulations on wearing face masks, avoiding mass gatherings, keeping a two-meter distance in social interactions, and observing strict hygiene standards.
  • Face masks and hand sanitizers have been added to a list of essential goods covered by the price stabilization program in Ho Chi Minh City. Prices of stabilized goods are approximately 5 to 10 percent lower than the market price.
  • Vietnam approved a plan to delay the collection of US$7.6 billion worth of taxes and land rent to help businesses hit by COVID-19.
  • Vietnam shipped 450,000 protective suits to the US to assist healthcare professionals in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Vietnam donated 550,000 masks to five European countries in its support for other countries against the pandemic.
  • Vingroup, Vietnam’s large conglomerate, plans to produce around 55,000 ventilators a month to combat COVID-19.
  • Vietnam’s Immigration Department will allow foreign nationals on visa-free, tourist visas (including e-visas) that are unable to leave the country, to extend their stays up to a period of 30 days by filing an application with the authority. The policy is effective from March 30 to April 30. Foreigners that have entered for work or other purposes can contact their embassies and sponsors for further guidance in accordance with the law. A list of documents needed for extensions can be found on the government website here.
  • Vietnam on April 1 implemented strict social distancing rules nationwide for 15 days to curb the spread of COVID-19. The measures include self-isolation and restricting people from leaving homes except for food and medicines. The gathering of more than two people is also banned while also keeping a distance of two meters when outside.
  • Factories, businesses, and service establishments producing and providing essential goods are allowed to remain open but must follow strict health guidelines.
  • In line with the order, domestic flights have been significantly reduced to just one round trip a day between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; Hanoi and Da Nang; Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Passenger trains between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are also limited to two trips a day. Public transport services will be suspended while transport from region to region will be minimized except for essential services.
  • Border crossings between Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos have been temporally closed since April 1.
  • Japan has pledged to help Vietnam in dealing with the pandemic by offering US$1.86 million via international organizations. 
  • Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on March 30 declared COVID-19 a nationwide pandemic and urged authorities at all levels to focus on efforts to contain the pandemic.
  • The US has earmarked a total of US$274 million in humanitarian assistance for 64 countries hit by COVID-19 including Vietnam, which would receive US$3 million worth of support.
  • Vietnam has banned the gathering of more than 20 people for at least two weeks from March 28 and temporarily shut down services like massage parlors, tourist sites, and cinemas nationwide. In addition, major cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Can Tho and Da Nang would need to temporarily shut down all service facilities except for food, pharmacy, and medical treatment services.
  • Authorities have made it mandatory for all travelers to declare their medical status on domestic flights and public transport.
  • 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.
  • 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 suspended the entry of all foreigners from March 22 until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats and officials as per government authorities.
  • 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 plans to issue several incentives for businesses affected by COVID-19. For more information on this, read our article here
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Korea and Italy will no 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 13,782 cases of the coronavirus infection with 69 deaths; however, we have concerns that more cases will arise. Travelers from epidemic-affected areas will face additional checks and screening.

As mentioned earlier,  5,546 of the patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals. However, Vietnam has quarantined several 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, it can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death in serious cases.

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 in case of an escalation of the coronavirus in Vietnam and be ready for measures taken by the authorities, which may 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 herewhich contains advisory for businesses operating in China, but may also be required should an outbreak extend to affect businesses operating in Vietnam. 

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;
  • Avoid crowded places; and
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficult breathing seek medical attention.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

 

Related Reading

 


About Us

Vietnam Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in HanoiHo Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. Readers may write to vietnam@dezshira.com for more support on doing business in Vietnam.

We also maintain offices or have alliance partners assisting foreign investors in IndonesiaIndiaSingaporeThe PhilippinesMalaysiaThailandItalyGermany, and the United States, in addition to practices in Bangladesh and Russia.

3 thoughts on “Vietnam Business Operations and the Coronavirus: Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *