Vietnamese City Ends COVID Lockdown, Public Transportation Still Suspended

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest city with a population of about 10 million people, is going to end its COVID-19 lockdown on Friday. However, public transportation will still be suspended and travel in and out of the city will be regulated, the Associated Press reported.

Residents will be able to leave their homes, restaurants can serve takeaway meals and essential businesses can open, the city said on its website Thursday, marking the end of nearly three months of restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Other restrictions will remain in place, including a social distancing order and a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people outside. In addition to the travel restrictions, schools remain closed.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Vietnam COVID-19 restrictions
Vietnam is lifting COVID-19 restrictions on its largest city after nearly three months on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Above, a Vietnamese military personnel (R) checks the travel documents of a motorist at a checkpoint in Ho Chi Minh City on Aug. 23, 2021, after the government imposed a stricter lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19. Pham Tho/AFP via Getty Images

People who wish to attend social activities will have to show proof of vaccination to be admitted to establishments, authorities said.

Ho Chi Minh City, along with 18 southern provinces, went into lockdown in mid-July when cases started to surge.

In the past three months, the Delta variant of the virus has infected 770,000 people and killed over 19,000, according to the health ministry. Most of Vietnam's COVID-19 deaths occurred in this wave, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for the majority of them.

Other southern cities have also eased lockdown restrictions, gradually resuming activities as infections decline.

In the past week, Vietnam's average new cases dropped by a third compared to earlier in the month when 14,000 were being recorded daily, the health ministry said.

In Vung Tau city, 70 kilometers (45 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City, barricades set up on the streets to control traffic during the lockdown were taken down as local residents cheered.

"We will have to celebrate this day, that the city is removing the barricades so we can go out again and get back to our normal lives," local resident Pham Van Thanh said as he helped officers remove a barricade on his street.

Vietnam is speeding up vaccinations in order to reopen the country, with priority for big cities and vulnerable locations such as industrial zones.

Ho Chi Minh City's health authority last week approved shortening the interval between two shots of AstraZeneca to six weeks, against the recommended eight to 12 weeks by the manufacturers, in order to fully vaccinate people quickly.

The health ministry says 98.5 percent of the city's adults have been inoculated and 48 percent of them have received both shots.

However, Vietnam's overall vaccination rate remains low with only 9.3 percent of its 98 million people fully vaccinated. The authority said short supply is the reason for the delay of virus inoculation.

COVID Restrictions Vietnam
Vietnam will lift a lockdown order in its largest city on Friday, ending almost three months of strict movement restrictions to curb a coronavirus surge. Above, police officers remove a barricade in Vung Tau, Vietnam Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. Hau Dinh/AP Photo