Bustle returns to Bui Vien Street as bars, night clubs reopen
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Staff of a bar on Bui Vien Street in HCMC wait for customers on the first reopening day after months of closure due to Covid, January 10, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Quy
Bars, discotheques and beer clubs reopened in Saigon on Monday after nearly eight months, and Bui Vien Street is again buzzing at night.
It's 8 p.m. on Monday and Nguyen Minh Hung, 28, a worker at a discotheque on Bui Vien Street in District 1, stands outside with sparkling lights and waves at customers.
Hung just left his hometown in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang to return to HCMC last week after nearly eight months without a job.
"I am very glad to return to work as there are only 20 more days left for Tet. I had no income for the whole of last year and am hoping to earn Tet bonuses to cover that.
"I am fully vaccinated, but to ensure safety, after working from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., I sleep at the discotheque to limit the risk of contracting or spreading Covid."
In contrast to the depressing sight of a dimly lit street and closed doors a few months ago, most bars and beer clubs in one of the city's busiest precincts are now lit up with Tet decorations and colorful lights and play loud music.
On the day of reopening things were a bit slow, and staff had to hit the streets to persuade guests to enter.
Some bars have reduced drinks' prices by 50 percent and have live music.
Tu Nhu, the manager of a bar, said she has not hired new staff considering business is only at 50-60 percent of pre-Covid levels.
"[But] it is a positive sign since we can at least keep the business going after two years of Covid and our staff can earn something before Tet.
"All my staff are fully vaccinated and we have a room for suspected Covid cases."
A bar on Bui Vien still has many empty chairs as it reopens after months of closure on January 10, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Quy
From around 8 p.m. young locals and some foreigners began to flock to the street looking for fun and games while police officers patrolled it to remind people to comply with safety measures.
Hoang Tung, 24, a freelance photographer, said: "When I heard that the city allowed bars and karaoke parlors to reopen, I immediately invited my close friends to Bui Vien on Monday night.
"Before the pandemic this was our group's favorite hangout on weekends. We cannot wait any more.
"To ensure safety we chose to sit in an outdoor area."
John, an American expat living in District 2, said he was excited to hang out with his friends for some beer on the first day.
"Before the pandemic I used to visit Bui Vien thrice a week. Without bars and discotheques, nobody comes to Bui Vien."
Some 500 karaoke parlors, bars and discos in HCMC had to shut for nearly eight months due as Covid raged.
Nhu and Hung hoped the pandemic would soon be controlled and authorities would not close bars and beer clubs again.
Nhu also hoped the government would soon allow foreign visitors so that the tourism-reliant nighttime economy could return to normal.