Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street on April 1, the first day of nationwide social distancing. — VNA/VNS Photo
With new nationwide social distancing regulations to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic coming into force today, life as we know it has changed across the country.
The new rules will last until at least April 15 and Việt Nam News has asked Hà Nội residents how their lives will change.
Hoàng Phương, 38, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội
I actually have been working remotely from home in recent weeks even before the announcement of the Prime Minister so it came as no surprise for me.
Some places I usually go to like restaurants, bars and gyms, and other gathering places have also shuttered, and I think such moves are quite necessary to help stop the transmission of the coronavirus.
Social distancing, if followed strictly, will dramatically slow the rate at which the infection spreads and that will greatly ease the burden on the health care system. Now Việt Nam has slightly more than 200 people infected with the virus, it’s not too many, but we’ve heard of how quickly the virus can spread in other parts of the world and who knows what’ll happen if the cases go up more quickly.
So I think it’s very important that everybody supports this attempt by Government, which is already doing very good regarding fighting the pandemic. And after all, it’s not the end of the world, supermarkets and wet markets are still open, you won’t lack any essentials.
But I hope the Government would soon offer some support for individuals and households seriously affected, like homeless people. I mean, they don’t have a home, where can they stay?
Phạm Liên Anh, 37, Hà Đông District, Hà Nội
I think I’ll be a little bit sad if I can’t go out, have some coffee and meet my friends, but the more important thing now is supporting the Government in fighting the pandemic so I’ll seriously follow what I am told to do: stay home.
But on the bright side, I’ll have more time for myself, I’ll cook more, plant some flowers, and watch movies I like that I haven’t been able to. I’m also helping my mum with her book and I'm also working on a book about Hà Nội. I’ll have more time to write. This will be a long vacation, a long luxury vacation.
Lê Việt Phong, 40, Hai Bà Trưng District, Hà Nội
During these times I’m trying to hold fast to any sense of normalcy that I can. I think Việt Nam is doing good so far, but the battle is still ahead, and I would like to pretend that there is transmission in the community already and everybody should act carefully. There’s going to be disruption to daily life, but we still can manage it.
Moreover, apart from the fact that supermarkets are still opening, ordering online is so easy these days even with fresh food. Can’t run, walk, cycle outside? Change to breaking a sweat at home with help from an app or online videos. I know many of my friends in Ha Noi who own businesses have quickly adapted to the situation and turned their services into online: teaching piano online, making gym guidance videos and providing online courses to those who want to keep fit.
So, stay home, and enjoy. See you in 15 days.
Chu Thị Nhàn, 72, Văn Miếu Ward, Đống Đa District
I totally agree and will comply with the Government’s requirement to stay indoor. For old people like me, especially those who already have some health problems, I know it would be very dangerous if we got infected with the virus.
I’m not worried about lacking food at all because I heard from the news that the Government had plans in place to provide sufficient food, medicines and other essentials for people. But of course, I have prepared some fresh food and also dry and canned food since restaurants and similar places will be closed.
Elle Tarr, British expat in Hà Nội
To be honest I figured it (the announcement on nationwide social distancing) was coming and it doesn’t seem that different to what the Prime Minister already said. Just seems to be a little stricter each time.
I think I’ll be staying in (laughs). I’m lucky enough I can work from home. I’ve got supplies in. It just means that I won’t get any fresh air for a while.
We have done some shopping, like food shopping. We haven’t gone mad because we don’t want to panic buy and make things bad for everyone but we have bought store cupboard essentials and things we can put in the freezer. And some toilet roll of course (laughs).
I’ve started to do exercise to help my mental state. Just some online dance videos and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) videos. And we’ve got the cat as well, she’s a source of entertainment, I’d like to keep her alive!
Kevin Doyle, American expat in Hà Nội
It’s an inconvenience but I know the idea behind it is we put everyone on lockdown for two weeks and hopefully it stops the spread, so I think this could hasten the return to normalcy and I look forward to that.
I trust the Government here in terms of focusing on the health of the people first rather than the economy. They’re taking a short-term hit but America is doing the exact opposite thing and look what’s happening over there.
I’m already teaching online at this point, I went out and stocked up on groceries on Monday actually as I thought something like this might be happening. So it’ll be a little lonely I guess, but that’s really it. Otherwise, I’m already working from home. I can still make phone calls and do everything that I need to do, so I don’t think other than a little cabin fever I don’t think it’s going to affect me much at all.
I went out and bought a massive tonne of food in terms of rice, beans, frozen meat just so I could cook without worrying about anything. I went out and bought my cigarettes this morning (laughs) so I have enough to get me through. That’s about it. In terms of entertainment, I have plenty of books, I have Netflix, I have video games, I’m not worried about that at all.
It’s necessary. I understand why they’re trying to do it so I don’t mind going along.
Adam Teach, British expat in Hà Nội
For me personally, I adopted similar guidelines several weeks ago. Over the last few days, I have seen a significant drop in the number of people out and about on the streets. But I think the measures are not sufficient. Because of the mistake at Bạch Mai Hospital and the rapid potential increase in cross-infection, all non-essential businesses should be closed; this includes manufacturing parks. Prevention is better than cure. — VNS