Passengers cancel Hanoi plans over seven day quarantine

 Passengers cancel Hanoi plans over seven day quarantine

A passenger checks in at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport to fly to HCMC, October 10, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Many people wanting to fly to Hanoi for work or family reunions have cancelled their travel plans because of the seven-day quarantine rule in the capital city.

After four months of struggling in Covid epicenter HCMC, Nguyen Ngoc Thao, an office worker living in District 11, breathed a big sigh of relief as the government allowed resumption of flights on the Hanoi-HCMC route.

The flights had been suspended for two months.

Fully vaccinated with two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Thao was happy that she could fly and visit her parents in Hanoi’s Dong Anh District.

However, the 28-year-old woman was shocked to know that all arrivals from HCMC have to undergo a seven-day centralized quarantine upon arrival in the capital city and their health monitored for the following seven days.

Disappointed and sad, Thao gave up her plan, unable to afford to lose three weeks to the journey.

"I miss my parents and want to return home and be with them for a week at least, but expensive air tickets and strict quarantine rules have killed my plans," she said.

Due to limited flights, one-way tickets for the HCMC-Hanoi route cost VND3.5 to 7.6 million ($153.84-334.08) per person, two to three times higher than the pre-pandemic prices.

Huyen Anh, a resident of HCMC’s Tan Binh District, had also looked forward to the resumption of domestic routes so that she can fly to Hanoi for work.

However, she too canceled her plans after learning about the seven-day centralized quarantine upon arrival.

With the lowest room rate for hotel quarantine at over 1 million ($43) a night, she could end up spending round VND10 million on a quarantine package, excluding testing expenses.

"I have been fully vaccinated so I can fly but high quarantine expenses have forced me to cancel my visit and find another way," she said.

Working for a company in Hanoi, Manh Hung of Hoan Kiem District needs to fly to HCMC to check some construction projects in the south but he is not sure if he should do it.

Hung would have to have his health monitored for seven days upon arriving in HCMC and upon returning to Hanoi, he would have to undergo a seven-day centralized quarantine and monitor his health for another seven days.

"If I cannot check construction sites, some projects could be delayed but such prolonged quarantine rules in both cities leave me in a difficult situation. I don't know how to solve it."

Aviation authorities restarted flights on 19 domestic routes from Sunday. From Oct. 10-20, there would be one return flight daily between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Passengers from HCMC to Hanoi will have to stay in centralized quarantine facilities or designated hotels for seven days, and monitor their health at home the following seven days. They have have to pay their own quarantine and testing expenses.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, the flight from HCMC to Hanoi could not take off Sunday as authorities failed to issue a specific centralized quarantine guideline for arrivals from HCMC. Passengers who had purchased tickets will be allowed to travel another day.

Also Sunday, Hanoi authorities issued a list of 20 two to five-star hotels designated as quarantine facilities for passengers arriving from HCMC, with prices ranging from VND1.3-6.9 million ($57.22-303.58) a night.

If passengers don't want to be quarantined in these designated hotels, they can choose to enter military-run centralized facilities.

Hanoi officials said this was a "necessary measure" to safeguard the political and administrative heart of the country against the pandemic.

The capital city has just undergone three periods of social distancing at different levels but there is still a very high risk of further outbreaks, officials have said.

Over the past weeks, Hanoi has recorded a series of community transmissions related to an outbreak at the Viet Duc Hospital, prompting city authorities to take safety measures to protect the capital.

The aviation authority has suggested that the transport ministry removes the centralized quarantine requirement for air passengers currently applied in several localities. Some localities including Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Binh have also imposed a seven-day centralized quarantine for air passengers.

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