|Children in masks sleeping on cardboard on the pavements while their parents filled out information forms and submitted them to the local police. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Thousands of migrant workers with motorbikes loaded with personal belongings attempted to leave HCM City Thursday night as the southern city starts to ease stringent COVID-19 lockdown that has lasted for more than three months.
After many hours stuck at the COVID-19 checkpoints at the city's border with Long An Province at least until the early hours of Friday, many – including children – had to resort to raincoats, cardboard boxes, and hammocks to spend the night on the pavements, while their parents filled out the information as local law enforcement tried to keep order and safe distancing at jam packed gateway streets, while struggling to provide food and water to those in need.
The information will then be forwarded to their localities of origin to either organise travel or arrange for quarantine facilities in order to prevent infections spreading from the biggest COVID-19 hotspot in the country at the moment.
“Please take note, after the local governments approves the pickup, HCM City will arrange vehicles to bring you back, please remain calm. After you have filled the forms and submitted them to the police officers, we will arrange temporary resting places for you, especially for the young children, they are already too exhausted,” a police officer said through a megaphone, reported Vietnam News Agency.
|Migrant workers entered their information on forms requesting repatriation. — VNA/VNS Photo
Local law enforcement persuaded people to return to the city, but more and more streamed into the city’s gateways late into the night.
The chaotic scenes mirrored those last month when thousands of out-of-work, out-of-money migrant workers were desperate to leave HCM City when the southern city announced heightened lockdown measures.
Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính has ordered HCM City and the southern neighbouring provinces Bình Dương, Đồng Nai and Long An to continue checking entries and exits to ensure COVID-19 safety.
Võ Văn Hoan, vice chair of HCM City People’s Committee, said following relaxation of restrictions, people’s desire to return home is “legitimate” but as the virus has penetrated deeply into the community, the massive influx of people returning at the same time could risk bringing outbreaks home and overwhelm the healthcare system there, making treatment difficult if infections occur.
Hoan also told the migrant workers that when the city opens up, economic and production activities could resume and there would be great demand for labour, and migrant workers could have jobs and income again. — VNS
|The gateway for exiting HCM City to go to Long An Province on National Road 1A was packed with people desperate to leave for home on Thursday night. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh
|Many brought with them all their belongings. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh