A staff checks the body temperature of a driver at the Phú Cường bridge checkpoint in HCM City bordering Bình Dương Province. VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh
HCM CITY — HCM City on Friday reopened 12 pandemic checkpoints at city gateways amid the new 15-day lockdown period to ensure that drivers have a negative COVID-19 test before entering the city.
All drivers entering the city must present a negative COVID-19 test certificate within 72 hours to be allowed to enter the city.
The checkpoints are operated by local police, army force, health staff and interdisciplinary forces.
On the first day of lockdown, many drivers were rejected and were forced to turn back as they failed to present the certificate or provide a “good” reason for entering the city.
Remote automatic body temperature monitors are used to check drivers’ temperatures. If the drivers have not completed health declarations online, they are required to scan the barcode for the health declaration.
Police forces have been mobilised to ensure security and order at the checkpoints, and at isolation and lockdown areas in the city. They are also working with medical staff to trace suspected COVID cases.
Bùi Tiến Lợi, deputy head of Tân Túc Traffic Police Station under the HCM City Police, is in charge of the checkpoint on National Highway 1A, which borders Long An Province. He said that any driver failing to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate would not be allowed to enter the city.
If there are two people in the vehicle but only one has a certificate, neither person will be allowed to enter. No exceptions will be permitted.
Many vehicles, mostly trucks and container trucks, were waiting in long queues on Friday at checkpoints at the eastern and western gateways because of problems with health declarations and test certificates, according to city authorities.
A street near Thị Nghè Market area in Bình Thạnh District is empty on the first day of a 15-day strict lockdown in HCM City. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp
At 11am on Friday, at a checkpoint on the National Highway, bordering Bình Dương Province, traffic congestion occurred in both directions, most of which were cargo trucks.
The checkpoint procedures only take a few minutes for those having a valid negative test certificate. But for those without the certificate, it takes a lot of time, causing congestion.
Some delivery drivers stood at the checkpoint, calling for people to go out to pick up their items because they were not allowed to pass the checkpoint.
A 55 year-old-woman from Đồng Nai Province said she had gone to Thủ Đức City in the morning, but when she returned she could not pass the checkpoint because she did not have a negative COVID-19 test certificate.
“When I left, I only needed to complete a health declaration, so I thought it was the same when I returned to Đồng Nai,” she said.
The HCM City Department of Transport has a plan for vehicles that transport essential goods and serve production and business, and trucks carrying workers or transporting goods to ports.
The department has asked provincial transport departments to work with functional forces at the checkpoints and road forces to ensure smooth circulation of goods during the lockdown period.
Air passengers must have negative COVID test
People queue for a COVID test in District 3 as part of the city’s screening scheme. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp
Air passengers travelling from and to HCM City are required to have a valid (within the last 72 hours) negative COVID-19 test result, according to a new directive by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
Under the requirement, all airport employees, especially those working at HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất airport, must have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours. Either a rapid antigen or PCR test is accepted.
Air crew serving on flights from and to the city have been urged to stay inside the airport before boarding the next flight.
In addition, the surfaces of air cargo from and to the city must be disinfected thoroughly.
CAAV has banned all international flights to the city, except for some special cases allowed by the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines must sell no more than 700 seats on its flights between HCM City and Hà Nội daily, while the limit for Pacific Airlines, Bamboo Airways and Vietjet Air is 200-400 seats per day.
The policy takes effect from July 9 to July 23.
The city has prepared for a scenario for treatment of 10,000-20,000 patients. The city has also increased the number of isolation areas and has prepared a supply 120,000 tonnes of food for people during the lockdown period.
HCM City, home to 13 million people, on Friday applied social distancing under Directive 16, the highest level of prevention which was enforced nationwide during the early days of the pandemic last year.
But this time the city has faced more challenges due to the highly contagious Delta variant that has caused infections in hospitals, industrial parks, residential areas and all wholesale markets in the city.
The city, as of Friday afternoon, had recorded nearly 10,000 locally transmitted cases since the outbreak began in late April. — VNS
List of 12 checkpoints at HCM City’s gateways:
1. HCM City - Long Thành - Dầu Giây expressway (at Long Phước toll station).
2. HCM City - Trung Lương expressway (at Tân Tạo - Chợ Đệm expressway toll station).
3. Tân Tạo - Chợ Đệm Street (at the foot of the Đôi Bridge, bordering Long An Province).
4. National Highway 1A (Ba Làng intersection, bordering Long An Province).
5. National Highway 22 (on National Highway 22, bordering Tây Ninh Province).
6. Provincial Road 8 (at the foot of Phú Cường Bridge, bordering Bình Dương Province).
7. National Highway 13 (at the foot of Vĩnh Bình Bridge, bordering Bình Dương Province).
8. National Highway 1A (at the foot of Sóng Thần overpass, bordering Bình Dương Province).
9. National Highway 1K (on National Highway 1K, bordering Bình Dương Province).
10. National Highway 50 (on National Highway 50, bordering Long An Province).
11. National Highway 1A (in front of entrance of An Ninh (Public Security) University).
12. Đồng Nai Bridge.