From HAU DINH – Associated Press
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam on Wednesday scrapped quarantine and other travel restrictions on foreign visitors to fully reopen its border after two years of pandemic-related closures, the government said.
Visitors entering the Southeast Asian country only need to present a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival, according to the Health Ministry, which said the new measures will take effect immediately.
Visitors must monitor their own health during the first 10 days of their stay and notify medical professionals in Vietnam if they experience COVID-19-like symptoms.
Vietnam has also reinstated visa waivers and issuance of visas on arrival, similar to those seen before the pandemic.
Vietnam closed its border and stopped issuing tourist visas in March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It partially reopened to international tourism last November for visitors traveling in severe bubbles.
In Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where streets were busy before the pandemic, many shops have closed due to a lack of tourists. The few that remain open are struggling.
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“It was very difficult. Business is so slow because there are no foreign tourists,” said Tuyet Lien, the owner of a shop selling silk and other souvenir products.
“I am very happy that the country is opening up completely again. Tourists will come back soon and business will flourish again,” Lien added.
The tourism industry made up almost 10% of the country’s economy before the pandemic.
“We believe Vietnam is rapidly changing to better align with other global destinations that have reopened to tourism. We remain optimistic that inbound travel volume will gradually increase,” said Mathieu Le Besq, general manager of Accor hotels in Vung Tau, a beach resort town in southern Vietnam.
The reopening comes as Vietnam reports record numbers of new COVID-19 infections, with a daily average of nearly 200,000 cases over the past two weeks.
Despite the high rate of infection, the majority of patients have mild symptoms of the Omicron variant and do not require hospitalization, according to the Health Ministry.
Vietnam has administered over 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, covering 80% of the country’s 98 million people, according to the Health Ministry.
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