Three days after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a directive, banning crowds of more than 20 people and ordering localities to close “non-essential” shops as the country enters a “decisive” two-week Covid-19 fight, popular Nha Trang beach in central Khanh Hoa Province was flooded with beach-goers, many without masks on Tuesday.
Eateries along the beach had suspended operations, but many street vendors were in search of customers regardless of the high risk of coronavirus infection.
On the shore, a loudspeaker continuously warned people not to gather in crowds, but to little effect.
Nguyen Sy Khanh, vice chairman of Nha Trang People’s Committee, said he had sent a notice to businesses along the beach, requesting them to close following the PM’s order. “But local authorities merely warned people not to gather in large crowds at public beaches.”
Local authorities said the coast from Tran Phu Street to Pham Van Dong Street is quite long at around 12 kilometers and well known as a famous tourist destination.
“If we limit residents to their homes, they cannot exercise and may get sick. We are discussing the issue to find a solution,” Khanh said.
The Health Ministry on February 26 declared Khanh Hoa Province free of the Covid-19 epidemic after recording no new patient for 39 days. The ministry declared a coronavirus epidemic in Khanh Hoa on January 1 after a hotel receptionist in Nha Trang tested positive for the virus.
In central Quang Ngai Province, authorities Monday put up barriers to prevent residents from bathing at My Khe, the most famous local beach.
Quang Ngai has not recorded any Covid-19 infections, but like many provinces and cities around the country, all bars, karaoke parlors, tourist attractions and other entertainment facilities have been shut down on the PM’s order.
On March 29, authorities in central Quang Nam Province, which boasts a long coastline of 125 kilometers and is home to beautiful Ha My, Cua Dai, An Bang and Cham Islands, closed all public beaches until April 15.
The move came after thousands of people flooded Tam Thanh Beach in Tam Ky Town, capital of Quang Nam on the weekend, sparking concerns.
Tam Thanh Beach in Quang Nam Province filled with people regardless of Covid-19 warnings on March 28, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
Vietnam started a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people in public, except for in offices, schools and hospitals, where the government imposed a 20-person limit earlier.
A directive issued Tuesday by PM Phuc calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are. People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in “essential” goods and services.
Phuc said in a meeting Tuesday that though the government has imposed tougher measures to limit travel, including reducing the frequency of domestic flights, suspending public bus services and closing all tourist attractions and historical sites, huge crowds still appeared on many streets and public beaches.
He requested localities to halt all religious gatherings and would strictly punish top leaders of any localities allowing the gathering of crowds.
Those deliberately gathering in large crowds in epidemic-stricken areas will be punished by up to VND30 million ($1,270) in accordance with Vietnamese law.
As of Tuesday, Vietnam’s total infections hit 204, with 55 discharged from hospital. Many currently active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S., foreigners coming from the same regions and those who’d come in contact with both groups.
The Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 37,800 people after spreading to 200 countries and territories so far.
Vietnam saw Q1 foreign arrivals plummet as entry was restricted and tourism destinations closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country welcomed nearly 3.7 million international tourists in the first quarter, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, according to General Statistics Office (GSO).