Traffic in HCM City on October 1, the first day when stringent lockdown measures to curb COVID-19 spread was lifted after outbreak situation eased and vaccination rate increased. — VNA/VNS Photo
HCM CITY — HCM City authorities have said they will ease social distancing measures further by October 15 as part of reopening the economy as the COVID-19 pandemic comes under control.
Speaking on a TV programme called ‘People Ask - The City Authority Responds’ on Friday (Oct 8), Phan Thị Thắng, vice chairwoman of the city People’s Committee, said: “We cannot eradicate the virus completely. We have to accept to live safely with it.”
She said people need to remain highly cautious and strictly comply with preventive measures.
The city has recently focused on speeding up vaccination for workers in industrial parks and export processing zones.
Nearly 100 per cent of adults aged 18 and above have received at least one shot and nearly 70 per cent have got two, which enables the reopening, Thắng said.
“The city will continue to speed up vaccination, especially for workers at wholesale markets and other locations where consumer goods are gathered so that the city will not be locked down again.”
Support to businesses
The Government plans a range of measures to help businesses such as reducing corporate income tax by 30 per cent for businesses with a turnover of up to VNĐ200 billion, and a similar cut in VAT (between October 1 and December 31) for certain sectors.
Small business households will be exempt from tax for the third and fourth quarters of 2021.
The city has worked with banks to remove difficulties related to borrowing by businesses and reduce interest rates.
Small and medium-sized enterprises, business households and individuals need to directly contact banks for preferential loans, Thắng said.
Business households can get loans of up to VNĐ2 billion and individuals can get VNĐ100 million.
Poor and near-poor people will be able to borrow more than once (up to VNĐ100 million at an interest rate of 0.5 per cent per month).
Many businesses have expressed concern about the high cost of COVID testing, but Thắng said, “the city cannot subsidise businesses any more.”
But the costs are treated as expenses for tax purposes, she pointed out.
HCM City has allowed tourism activities to resume in Cần Giờ and Củ Chi districts where the pandemic is under much better control.
From November it would allow people from the city to travel to other provinces, Thắng said.
The city has agreed with Hà Giang Province authorities that travellers from the city who have been fully vaccinated can travel to the northern border province without needing to quarantine.
Regarding labour demand, Thắng said many businesses and associations in the city have compiled a list of people in other provinces who need to return to work.
The city will create condition for those who want to find jobs in the city. For example, the city’s employment centre and the Youth Union will help them find jobs for free.
The city will also give priority of vaccines for workers in provinces who want to return to work in the city.
The country’s pandemic hotspot early this month lifted its lockdown measures. It has allowed almost all businesses in the city with a limited number of people allowed to gather at the same time.
Non-essential services and businesses (such as beauty salons, karaoke venues, pubs, bars and massage parlours, cinemas, video game venues, on-site catering services), and street vendors and street ticket sellers, have remained prohibited.
The city has imposed various levels of lockdown measures since late May. It has had more than 400,000 cases since late April. More than 15,000 people have died of the virus in the city. — VNS
Phan Thị Thắng (middle), vice chairwoman of the city People’s Committee, speaks at a TV livestream session “People Ask - The City Authority Responds” on Friday (Oct 8). Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre