Expats hope HCMC lockdown is in sight

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Samantha Price started this week with a smile after seeing the barriers on her street in Phu Nhuan District removed after four months.

Watering plants on her balcony and gazing at the streets, the Briton can’t hide her relief and says she has started to feel a return to normalcy.

“I ordered com tam and banh mi Monday, and I had never stopped having these things for so long like this. “

It took her two hours to get food delivered, “but I felt absolutely fine.”

Knowing that the city will remove road barriers and remove travel permits by September 30, she made an appointment with her hairdresser and dentist.

She is one of thousands of expats in Saigon who are eagerly awaiting life after social distancing as the city plans to reopen its economy and “live with the virus.”

HCMV is the epicenter of the fourth wave of Covid-19 to strike at the end of April, recording more than 376,000 cases and nearly 14,500 deaths to date. He has imposed social distancing of different levels of rigor since the end of May.

An Estonian receives food from a volunteer in HCMC, August 2021. Photo by VnExpress / Quynh Tran

After months of living behind closed doors, many expats are eager to return to work or resume their activity.

Jordan Ng, a Singaporean living with his wife, hopes to reopen his restaurant and make full-price deliveries as soon as possible.

“The main problem we face as restaurateurs is that ingredient prices are higher than usual. I hope we can get back to normal prices and get our business back to normal.”

High delivery rates have been another reason for him not to reopen his restaurant in recent weeks.

“I will definitely start my business as soon as possible to cover the losses of the last few months. “

Price, who has been teaching English and math in Vietnam for nearly four years, hopes the economy will reopen will be the first step towards normality, so that “English schools and centers can reopen soon”.

“I don’t plan to go back to school in October, but I think the reopening is a crucial step showing that the city is ready to live with the virus.”

It’s not as if people expect to meet their friends or get together right after the lockdown is lifted: many just want to resume their daily activities like shopping and going out, which have been disrupted.

“I hope I can get my hair cut, go shopping, restock my food and play outdoor sports,” said Bert, a Canadian who does not want to reveal his last name and works as an assistant manager of a industrial catering company, said.

He also hopes that when travel restrictions are relaxed, it will be easier to find maintenance and repair services.

“My house’s water system broke and finding a plumber to fix it was a nightmare.” He eventually found a plumber who could come to his home in District 2 to fix it.

“I am delighted that the city allows us to continue with the daily routines, although the opening will be in stages and perhaps at a slow pace.”

Petra Fischer, a German businessman who came to Saigon in May, says he’ll be cycling and exercising, shopping and “picking my own food without anyone delivering it.”

But first, he wants to check on a family of three who lived under the Saigon Bridge to see if they’re okay after the month-long lockdown.

“I gave them food before the lockdown and I don’t know how they’re doing.”

Water and groceries delivered to Bert from a local supermarket in early September.  Photo courtesy of Bert

Water and groceries delivered to Bert from a local supermarket in early September 2021. Photo courtesy of Bert

Optimistic

As the vaccine rollout continues across Vietnam, locals and foreigners alike have rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated.

Many are grateful to have been fully vaccinated and secured against the Rampant Delta variant.

Price, Ng, Bert and Fischer all checked on the electronic health record app (So ​​suc khoe dien tu), which helps citizens register for vaccination and records their information, and had their vaccination data.

“I’m fully vaccinated, I have my ‘green pass’ on the app and I’m happy with it,” says Bert.

Price says she feels “lucky” because the people around her and most Vietnamese are willing to be vaccinated so “everyone can be safe from the virus.”

A UNICEF survey found that 67% of Vietnamese wanted to be vaccinated.

“The drive to get the vaccine bodes very well for Vietnam and the rollout of vaccination to open Vietnam and get business back on track,” said UNICEF’s Rana Flowers.

HCMV has vaccinated around 6.8 million people, or 98.2% of its adult population, with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. About 3 million people, or 42.8%, have been fully immunized.

Although excited about the lockdown being lifted, people have no plans to stop adopting safety measures as they realize the disease is here to stay.

Fischer, who has lived in detention in Germany for months, said he was not worried about living with the virus after restrictions were eased.

“I know how to avoid gatherings and I won’t be in situations where there is a high risk of getting infected.”

Bert isn’t worried either, saying he accepts the fact “we live in a world with Covid” and will take his own precautions to protect himself from the virus.

Bert, whose aviation business has been shut down in recent months, admits that the idea of ​​leaving Vietnam has already crossed his mind, “but I gave up on the idea because I think the strict lockdown will not be. prolonged”.

For Price, “meeting people or going to crowded places” is not yet on his mind.

“When I see that the barriers are removed and I know I can go out for a walk with my dog ​​without being fined next month, I see the light at the end of this containment tunnel.”


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