Covid-19 in Vietnam: Strict measures to avoid a second lockdown


last updated on 21 August 2020 | reading time approx. 5 minutes


For exactly 99 days, there was no case of „community transmission” in Vietnam. During this time, the number of infections increased only slightly due to return flights and the arrival of experts and diplomats, who were quarantined immediately upon arrival in Vietnam. However, after a first case of transmission of the virus within Vietnam in the megacity of Danang on 25 July 2020, this situation changed abruptly, and local lockdowns and restrictive measures to combat the corona virus returned to Vietnam.




Overview of the development and status of the Covid-19 situation

No new infections had occurred within the country since mid-April. After the aforementioned case in the central Vietnamese coastal town of Danang on 25 July 2020, a very popular tourist destination, the numbers rose rapidly. Various hospitals in the city have been identified as Covid hotspots from which the virus originated. The cases discovered so far are almost all either patients or employees of one of the affected hospitals or can be traced back to the hospitals. After the outbreak on 25 July Vietnam had to report casualties for the first time. 26 people, so far all with multiple serious pre-existing conditions, have died by 19 August 2020.

As usual, the authorities reacted quickly and strictly to the new outbreak. Danang had to go into lockdown again from 28 July. On 12 August the further extension of all social distancing measures was decided. Residents are only allowed to leave their homes for activities that are considered essential. Grocery stores, petrol stations and pharmacies are still open.

Air traffic to and from Danang has been largely suspended since the end of July. Similarly, Hoi An, a popular tourist resort close to Danang, is largely closed after the discovery of some Corona cases imported from Danang. Since 31 July the province of Quang Nam is also in lockdown, as well as the city of Buon Ma Thuot since 3 August. Lastly, on 16 August Hai Duong City, located in a northern province, was put under lockdown after five cases of local transmission of the virus were reported.

On 2 August 2020, Prime Minister Phuc called upon the citizens of the country to install the Corona warning app “Bluezone” on their mobile phones.

As of 5 August the disregard of the mask obligation in Ho Chi Minh City will be punished with fines (fine of 100,000-300,000 Vietnamese đồng).

In order to identify Covid-19 infected holiday returnees from Danang and the central highlands, mass rapid tests have been carried out in Hanoi and HCMC since the end of July, but so far only isolated cases have been reported.

Currently (as of 19 August 2020) Vietnam has 989 corona cases, of which 525 have fully recovered, and 26 people died. 


So far, only the aforementioned places in Central Vietnam, especially Danang and Hoi An, have been placed under lockdown. Air and passenger traffic has also been suspended in these places.

These restrictions, however, do, to a large extent, not yet apply in the other parts of the country. In particular taxis, public transport and domestic air traffic are usable, even if they sometimes operate at lower frequency. Even in Hanoi and HCMC, only the operation of amusement arcades, bars and massage parlours as well as the gathering of crowds of more than 30 people has been prohibited to date.

International air traffic, on the other hand, is still severely restricted. In addition, a basic ban on entry into Vietnam applies to foreigners. Exceptions are only made for diplomates, experts and other specific cases with individual case-to-case permission. For these cases, special flights are organised individually.

Exit possibilities to Europe exist via South Korea, Hong Kong, Doha and Dubai, provided that the airport transit area is not left. From time to time, Vietnam Airlines does offer outbound flights, also as a joint trip in cargo flights.

Economic Impacts

Although the Corona crisis and the country's widespread stagnation have had a serious impact on the Vietnamese economy, it is still less serious than in other countries that have been hit hard by the virus. In April, the International Monetary Fund still expected a 2.8 per cent growth despite the Corona crisis.

The service sector is suffering most from the crisis, especially the tourism, aviation and catering sectors. The tourism industry has been hit particularly hard, slumping by 53 per cent and now suffering from the new outbreak – international tourism is not even taking place at present. In the tourism and catering sector, a significant increase in insolvency cases can also be observed already.

Although production companies as a whole are in principle allowed to continue production in most cases, they have to weather constant supply bottlenecks due to the crisis. In addition, there has been a considerable slump in international demand in many areas, especially in the textile industry, which is strongly represented in Vietnam.

Visas, residency permits and work permits

Entry visas have not been issued since March 22. The possibility of visa-free entry for Germans as well as for many other nationalities has been abolished. The only exceptions to the entry ban are those with diplomatic or service passports. In July/August there were still a few exceptions for experts and qualified specialists from the economic sector. On arrival, all those entering the country must undergo a health examination and a two-week quarantine in accordance with the current regulations. In addition, travelers from many countries, especially from Europe and the USA, must present a certificate stating that they are “corona free”.

Foreigners who already have a work permit and are in Vietnam can have it extended for another 2 years. Foreigners who are already in Vietnam and apply for a new work permit cannot currently obtain one. In such cases, it is usually not possible to obtain a residence permit for 1 or 2 years, but only a visa extension of 1 - 3 months. The latter is also necessary because at present it is only possible to leave the country with difficulty, if at all. Entry with a business visa is only possible for required experts with a special permit.

Foreigners already in Vietnam had to provide information about the date of entry, their state of health etc. in an app or on the website of the competent authority.

Legal aspects

In connection with the Covid-19 situation, many companies also face legal questions, in particular with regard to labor law issues. Above all, if there is only limited work or no work at all left in a company, it must be examined whether work suspension is possible, whether unpaid leave can be granted, what a furlough scheme may look like in Vietnam and whether state subsidies are available. All of the above measures can also be implemented under Vietnamese law, but generally require the employee's consent in the event of a reduction in salary. A classic furlough scheme like it is common in Germany does not exist, for example. However, it can be achieved by a mixed model of agreed partial release from work. Corresponding measures under labor law should only be taken here after careful consideration and a thorough examination of the legal situation and the employment contracts, taking into account the individual case.

In addition, the government has already enacted a large number of regulations which, taking the Corona crisis into account, permit suspension or late payment without interest charges and fines, e.g. in the area of tax and social law, but also in other legal areas.

Other regulations allow employers who have had to temporarily release at least 50 per cent of their employees to suspend payments for pension insurance schemes under certain conditions, but also, for example, the payment of trade union dues to the Trade Union, which are obligatory in Vietnam. Here too, against the background of the large number of regulations for the individual company, it must be examined in good time and on a case-by-case basis which regulations can be made applicable to the company.

The government has set up a social program for companies and private individuals amounting to 2.7 billion US dollar (almost one per cent of GDP). Most of the measures are designed to secure the livelihoods of particularly affected sections of the population. By mid-June 2020, an estimated 6.5 million households are expected to have received support payments.
In addition, the government has ordered the banks to grant loans amounting to 12.1 billion US dollars at reduced interest rates.


After a long period of 99 days without a single case of Corona transmission within the country, Vietnam has now been struggling with a new outbreak since the end of July, that has so far almost exclusively affected the centre of the country, leading to a regional lockdown there. At the moment, there are many indications that Vietnam could once again succeed in catching the outbreak and continuing economic life largely unhindered with the now almost familiar, common Corona restrictions.
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