PM order cutback on inbound flights until after Tết over new coronavirus variant concerns

Update: January, 10/2021 - 17:21


Entrants on a flight from South Korea waiting in line for customs procedures after landing at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội in September 2020. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hùng

HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese Government has decided to “minimise the number of inbound flights” into Việt Nam until after the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday as more contagious variants of coronavirus have been recorded up in many countries.

In a directive communicating the decision from Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc issued on Saturday, the country will only allow in “truly necessary” flights that have been approved on a case-by-case basis by five ministries – the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Defence – along with approval from the PM himself.

Việt Nam closed its border in March last year to curb the spread of the pandemic but has gradually opened up to a limited number of flights – including repatriated Vietnamese citizens from overseas, foreign business executives and experts or skilled workers, and diplomats.

The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Health are tasked with preparing facilities to implement mandatory quarantine for all Vietnamese entrants. Quarantine length and protocol must be reviewed to take into account the increased transmissibility of the new variants of the virus.

The directive asks local governments to beef up inspections of quarantine facilities under their jurisdictions (except centralised facilities managed by the military) to ensure the observance of COVID-19 prevention and control regulations.

All short-term foreign entries will be placed under centralised quarantine for 14 days, except in special cases considered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Local health departments must ensure the transport, reception and follow-up medical monitoring of people discharged from quarantine facilities are conducted properly and transgressions are strictly punished.

PM Phúc ordered the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Public Security to enhance entry and exit management on the country’s land, sea, and other waterway border routes.

The Ministry of Public Security and provincial/municipal people’s committees should work with local administrations to communicate to families with members staying overseas to discourage illegal entry.

People who wish to return to Việt Nam via land routes but suffer financial difficulties will be considered for quarantine fee support by local authorities, according to the directive.

After the Tết holiday ends (around mid-February), the Ministry of Transport should study the resumption of regular commercial flights as per the Government’s instructions to serve the dual goal of pandemic containment and economic recovery, as well as the travel needs of citizens. — VNS