|Hà Nội has opened the Hà Nội – HCM City and Hà Nội – Đà Nẵng flight routes with one roundtrip per day for each route. VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The capital city has recently introduced a seven-day quarantine policy for passengers arriving on flights from HCM City.
The policy has been met with mixed reactions, with some saying the policy is a “hassle” for travellers, especially those who are fully vaccinated and have tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Following temporary instructions issued by the Ministry of Transport (MoT) on resuming commercial flight routes while ensuring safety against COVID-19, Hà Nội has opened the Hà Nội – HCM City and Hà Nội – Đà Nẵng routes with one roundtrip per day on each.
The quarantine policy is necessary for COVID-19 prevention as the city has recently detected F0 cases in the community, meaning a high risk of infection, according to Hà Nội People’s Committee.
In addition to the general conditions for flight passengers, Hà Nội People’s Committee also applies a seven-day quarantine policy for travellers arriving from HCM City in designated isolation areas or hotels. Passengers themselves will pay for the testing fees and other expenses during this period; and have to self-quarantine at home for seven more days.
Travellers from Đà Nẵng will have to enter a seven-day self-quarantine at their accommodation and be tested for the virus on the first and the sixth day. After this period, they will continue to monitor their health for the next seven days.
According to Hà Nội’s People Committee, the country’s pandemic situation has seen positive developments in recent weeks, and the city’s seven-day centralised quarantine policy was met with mixed opinions. Hà Nội, however, deemed the quarantine policy necessary, as the city is the capital, the centre for politics – administration, culture, science, education, economy and trade of the country; with multiple governmental units and multinational enterprises based in the locality, which makes defending the city against the pandemic a priority.
The capital city has been strictly following Notice no. 263/TB-VPCP issued on October 8, 2021 by Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành on resuming commercial flight routes while ensuring safety measures against COVID-19. This resumption is crucial to restore and develop the socio-economy for localities, gradually bringing people's lives back to normal, said Thành.
Flights also have a latent risk of spreading the virus and leading to new outbreaks affecting socio-economic development and people’s health, thus the opening must be careful with close guidance and smooth co-ordination from central to local levels. Safety measures must be taken in the process to effectively control the pandemic at travel points, to isolate any F0 cases and prevent possible outbreaks.
The Deputy Prime Minister also required all localities to strictly follow the MoT’s temporary instruction on resuming domestic commercial flights, while actively monitoring travellers from pandemic hotspots to prevent the spread of infection.
Despite initial achievements after three social distancing periods, Hà Nội still harbours a very high risk of infection with several new cases detected in the community, especially in some medical facilities with sources coming from other localities. The capital, therefore, has to enforce stringent measures to control the pandemic while proceeding with the vaccination plan for the second dose for its residents.
As a result, Hà Nội still applies the seven-day quarantine policy for passengers coming from major COVID-19 hotspots, and has been taken steps to apply technology and coordinate branches and departments in receiving people upon re-opening domestic flight routes. Twenty hotels have been designated as medical isolation facilities for passengers deciding to pay their own quarantine expenses.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Việt Nam (CAAV), however, has proposed to the MoT a universal regulation for flight passengers and no centralised quarantine.
The aviation authority also suggests only requiring a negative test for SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours before the flights. As the full vaccination rates in localities outside of Hà Nội and HCM City remain quite low, only allowing fully vaccinated people to board the flight will result in low numbers of passengers. It is also proposed that distancing in airplane seating be removed, as this will increase fare prices.
On the first day of domestic commercial flights resuming, only 11 out of 38 scheduled flights were made with a limited number of passengers, 27 other flights were cancelled due to bad weather. The CAAV said two flights coming from Đà Nẵng and HCM City had to be called off due to incoherent centralised quarantine policy. Another flight to Quảng Bình from HCM City was also cancelled as the locality called for centralised quarantine of passengers. Requiring inbound passengers to register and receive approval in advance with the local authority of Thừa Thiên – Huế, a HCM City – Huế flight was also cancelled.
Several localities including Hà Nội, Hải Phòng, Thừa Thiên Huế and Lâm Đồng have been enforcing stricter requirements for incoming flights. Hà Nội also gave passengers the option of staying at centralised quarantine areas, or at designated hotels (if paying for quarantine expenses themselves). — VNS