|HCM City plans to reduce public transport services to lessen the risk of COVID-19 spreading. VNA/VNS. Photo Tiến Lực|
HCM CITY — The HCM City Party Committee on Thursday (March 26) approved paying an allowance of VNĐ1 million (US$42.5) a month to people losing their livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic from the outlay meant for paying wage hikes this year to city officials.
Speaking at an online meeting between the Party Committee and district people’s committees, the secretary of the Party Committee, Nguyễn Thiện Nhân, said some 600,000 people would lose their jobs now, and the money paid to them would be a way for the city to share their difficulties.
He urged the city People’s Committee to submit this proposal and get approval from the People’s Council at its extraordinary meeting held yesterday afternoon.
Nguyễn Thành Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee, said the city accepts economic short-term losses to focus on fighting the pandemic and safeguarding people’s health.
He instructed the Department of Transport to consider the temporary suspension of public transport, especially large buses, to contain people in areas where there are COVID-19 cases.
Following this, the department yesterday (Friday) suggested that ride-hailing taxies should operate normally but their passengers need to fill in health declaration forms and the vehicles’ drivers to set their air-conditioners at 27 degrees Celsius.
Bus drivers can only carry half their designed capacities and on half the routes, and seat only one passenger in each row of seats. Hand sanitisers are mandatory in buses.
Fifty-four out of 132 bus routes will be suspended because of lack of patronage, most of them covering schools and amusement parks. Elsewhere, buses will run on around 50 per cent of the routes.
The department has suggested paying allowances to more than 5,000 staff whose buses are not running, and subsidising operators who recently borrowed money from banks to buy new buses.
The river bus service will be suspended and tourism boats have to ensure they have less than 20 passengers.
Goods transport vehicles would operate normally, the department said.
Domestic flights would be reduced.
People, especially those aged more than 60, should not venture outside unless it is needed, with health experts saying reducing travelling is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Phong said health staff should not leave the city unless necessary and should be available on call.
Nguyễn Tấn Bỉnh, head of the Department of Health, said the city has 6,000 test kits for COVID-19 now and would add 4,000 more this month.
By May 15 it would have 70,000 kits, he said.
As of March 26, the city has had 34 cases of COVID-19 and quarantined 9,346 people.
The rate testing positive in the city’s quarantine areas is 11 per 3,000, or 0.36 per cent.
The city has said it will fine people not wearing masks in public and not going to quarantine areas as instructed. VNS