HCM City begins two trial ‘buffer’ weeks before reopenng

A trial reopening in HCM City will be implemented on September 16-30 in districts 7, Cu Chi and Can Gio before following steps are taken.

HCM City begins two trial ‘buffer’ weeks before reopenng

During a ‘Dan hoi, thanh pho tra loi’ (People ask, city leaders answer) livestream on September 13, HCM City Vice Mayor Le Hoa Binh talked to people about plans to fight the pandemic and recover the economy after September 15.

He said the city reopening plan, to be implemented in three stages, will be submitted to the HCM City Executive Committee of the Party Committee for approval.

There will be an experimental period, which lasts from September 16 to 30. The trial reopening will be conducted in three districts which have basically controlled the pandemic.

The tight control over the travel and goods transportation will be loosened step by step. From September 16, shippers will be allowed to travel among districts if they can meet requirements on pandemic prevention and control. Shippers will receive Covid-19 tests for free.

Binh said HCM City, with support from other provinces, has gained achievements in fighting the pandemic, but many things still need to be done. It’s necessary to reconsider the criteria on pandemic control. Also, municipal authorities and healthcare department will adjust some issues during the implementation process.

Regarding the question "Will the lockdown continue in the city?”, Binh said that municipal authorities don’t want to continue the lockdown but they believe that it’s necessary to take cautious steps in reopening the city.

That is why there should be the "buffer period" in three districts. The implementation in these areas will show if the city is safe enough, and the city will consider the next steps.

“We have got encouraging results. We have classified three levels of treatment, with improvement at the second, and consolidation at the third level to protect people’s lives. We will be able to contain the pandemic and develop the city,” Binh said.

The tight control over the travel and goods transportation will be loosened step by step. From September 16, shippers will be allowed to travel among districts if they can meet requirements on pandemic prevention and control. Shippers will receive Covid-19 tests for free.

In answer to the question, "What does it mean living together with the pandemic?" , Binh said the city has prepared 11 plans and strategies to control the pandemic and recover the economy.

After consulting with foreign and domestic experts, the municipal authorities realized that a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy was an unfeasible goal. The city needs to strive for dual goals – fighting the pandemic and developing the economy. The dual goal period will begin after September 15.

Green cards

Binh confirmed that a green card will be applied upon reopening. There will be two cases. Those who have been fully vaccinated will still have to take a Covid-19 test and follow the 5K principle (in Vietnamese: Khau trang - facemask, Khu khuan -  disinfection, Khoang cach - distance, Khong tu tap - no gathering, Khai bao y te - health declaration) in traffic and at work.

Meanwhile, those who have only had one shot will have narrower travel sphere.

People aged over 65, if fully vaccinated and in good health, will be able to go to work like others.

 

Regarding vaccination for students aged below 18, Binh said there is still no regulation about vaccinating 12-18-year-olds.

Some people during the livestreams complained that Covid patients staying at home find it very difficult to contact medical units for help when they turn more severe. In reply, Binh said the city has an oxygen app with information about hotlines, addresses of clinics and the nearest mobile medical units.

Return to hometowns

People are worried about the extension of social distancing for two more weeks after September 15. They wondered how they could continue living in the city if they have not received support and asked the city to help them return home.

Binh said that there is no discriminatory treatment between temporary and permanent residents.

“We are trying to give the highest possible support. But you should be cooperative. At this difficult moment, people should stay where they are to prevent the spread of the virus and protect people’s lives,” Binh said.

He said that HCM City is ready to help people return to their home villages, but said they won’t be able to go through checkpoints if there is no organization which comes forward to organize trips to their hometowns. People need to contact councils of compatriots, local transport departments and people’s committees of these provinces.

However, Binh advised people not to move at this moment and said it would be better to stay in HCM City. The city will have the responsibility to give support to them during that time.

To date, the city has given two support packages targeting specific groups of people and is considering a third package.

Economic recovery

Regarding criteria for the reopening of the economy, Binh said the city is building a set of eight criteria to ensure safe reopening.

The criteria will be put into trial application on September 16-30 in districts which have controlled the pandemic, and possibly in Tan Thuan EPZ (export processing zones) and hi-tech zones as well.

Also according to Binh, the city has a plan on fighting the pandemic and recovering the economy with longer-term vision, after consulting with experts and the business community.

“We are happy that we have got a consensus with the business community that it must be safe upon reopening and only when it is safe will reopening be implemented,” he said. 

Thu Anh - Ho Van

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