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HCM CITY — Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has asked HCM City to take great precautions adjusting COVID-19 prevention measures in compiling its directive on relaxing social distancing measures from October 1.
Speaking at a meeting with city leaders on the directive, which is currently being drafted, Deputy PM Đam told the city to be committed to enforcing pandemic prevention measures and focus on priority activities when it reopens.
It must also aim to continue to reduce the number of cases and deaths.
The number of new cases and deaths has begun to drop. More than 95 per cent of adults (aged 18 and above) have received at least one vaccine dose and 33 per cent are fully vaccinated in the city.
A number of activities, including reopening of businesses, are being piloted in District 7, Củ Chi and Cần Giờ districts, considered "safe areas".
Đam recommended that priority be given to reopening businesses and production establishments in industrial zones, processing and exporting zones, and high tech zones.
The city must map out the situation in each family, each residential area, and each district for risk assessment.
It will need to maintain pandemic surveillance capacity of each ward, residential area and district (including testing capacity, and epidemiological investigation and treatment).
The city must continue to quickly conduct testing and epidemiological investigations if there are future outbreaks.
Đam has allowed the city to license businesses and production facilities to resume operations if they meet safety requirements. People with a green card (fully or partially vaccinated for at least 14 days, or recovered from a COVID infection contracted no more than six months ago) can take part in production activities.
The meeting participants pointed out a potential risk of infection as more workers from other provinces and cities with low vaccination rates will return to HCM City for work.
To resolve the issue, the city must work with Mekong Delta provinces and consult with the Prime Minister on pandemic control measures when the workers from the provinces come to the city to work.
The city must maintain 12 checkpoints at its gateways and 39 other checkpoints at the entrances to other localities.
The city should ensure jobs, accommodations, welfare and vaccines for these workers to help them stay in the city instead of going back and forth between the city and the provinces, according to Đam.
For treatment, the city will maintain its mobile medical stations.
City authorities earlier announced a plan to gradually reopen its economy beginning next month.
Services allowed to reopen include food and drink for delivery, in-door hairdressing salons (allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity), traditional markets, wholesale markets, shopping centres, stores for stationery, textbooks and other learning equipment, mechanics, electronics and home appliances, and construction works.
Tourism sites will be permitted to operate at 30 per cent capacity and all visitors must have two vaccine doses, or have made a full recovery from COVID-19 or test negative for the virus.
Non-essential services and businesses such as beauty salons, karaoke venues, pubs, bars and massage parlours will remain closed.
Sports events will be allowed to be held with 30 per cent capacity and all participants must have two doses of vaccines or have fully recovered from the disease.
Outdoor exercise and cultural activities will be allowed with the participation of no more than 10 people, or 50 people if all of them are fully vaccinated.
Wedding services will be allowed with the participation of up to 50 people with supervision from medical workers.
Public transport will resume but will only be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity. The city is also proposing the reopening of some domestic and international air routes.
Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, chief of office at the city Department of Health, said: "The city has seen the pandemic peak and has basically contained it."
Experts have called on the city to change its pandemic fighting strategy, shifting away from the "zero COVID" approach that was successful during much of the outbreak last year and early this year.
HCM City has imposed various levels of lockdown measures since late May. On August 23, the city imposed the toughest measures, ordering people to "stay where they are" except for emergencies.
The city of 13 million has recorded more than 376,000 COVID-19 cases since late April when the fourth wave began. Nearly 15,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the city. — VNS
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