Vietnam is one step closer to fully opening its borders.
The government announced on Thursday that, when regular international flights to select cities in Asia and the United States resume Jan. 1, fully vaccinated passengers will only have to isolate at home for three days, instead of spending an expensive week in a quarantine hotel or a centralized facility.
Under the new guidelines from the Ministry of Health, individuals self-isolating should not make any direct contact with other people or go out of their homes or hotels until they get a negative COVID-19 test result on the third day.
After nearly two years of banning regular commercial flights, the government announced last week that it will restart flights Jan. 1 between Vietnam and 11 airports in locations with high vaccination rates and pandemic-control measures: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Singapore, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei.
The spread this year of the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 have upended previous plans for gradually reopening Vietnam, and unexpected developments may alter the current plans to restore international flights. But for now, travel consultant Rosa Hoang is looking forward to a tourism revival.
“This speeds up economic and tourism recovery, and will enable us to bounce back after two difficult years with COVID-19,” said Hoang, who works for Saigon-based inbound tour operator Trails of Indochina, which has been creating bespoke travel packages worldwide for more than 20 years. “This is exciting news not just for the company but for all travel agencies in Vietnam.”
Rosa, who’s handling Latin American clients, said that travelers from Mexico are particularly eager to visit Vietnam in 2022. “Mexicans have always been very fond of Southeast Asia. I think we’ll be getting bookings from this group next year.”
Mexico, however, isn’t part of the first phase of the commercial flight resumption. The government previously said the second phase of the plan would restore international flights to nine cities including Paris, Frankfurt, Sydney and Moscow.
The resumption of flights isn’t only aimed at jump-starting the dormant tourism industry; it’s also intended to make if easier for overseas Vietnamese to return for Lunar New Year.
The guidelines require foreign passengers to be fully vaccinated. The health ministry also said that it will vaccinate arriving Vietnamese citizens, including their spouses and children, who have not been inoculated against the virus yet or received enough doses. It will be done for free during their quarantine period.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it’s negotiating with other countries on mutual recognition of vaccine passports to facilitate smooth international travel.
Vietnam has been ramping up its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 after a slow start earlier this year, when a surge of COVID-19 cases derailed the economy and led to months-long lockdowns. As of December 15, the health ministry said, 96.4% of people 18 and older had received one vaccine dose, while 76.5% of the population had received two doses.
Vietnam Travel Guidelines, according to the Ministry of Health:
Get RT-PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours before entering Vietnam
Make medical declaration before entry. All travelers must install and use the medical declaration application PC-COVID. The mobile app will also be used to monitor health and movement
For Vietnamese citizens, overseas Vietnamese and relatives (including spouse and children) who have not been vaccinated or have not received enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination will be performed for free during the quarantine period
Delegations entering Vietnam at the invitation of senior leaders will follow a different entry scheme
Present a legal COVID-19 vaccination certificate. The last dose should have been given within at least 14 days and not more than 12 months by the time of entry
For travelers who have been infected with COVID-19, a certificate of recovery or equivalent documents certifying that they’ve recovered from the disease should be presented
In the first three days from the date of entry, fully vaccinated visitors will self-monitor their health at the place of stay (including houses, hotels, motels, resorts, headquarters of the representative agency, dormitory, guest houses of production, and business establishments.) They are not allowed direct physical contact with other people or to leave the accommodation
COVID-19 test by RT-PCR method will be done on the 3rd day from the date of entry. If the test result is negative for SARS CoV-2, people on entry continue to monitor health until the end of 14 days from the date of entry; In case the test result is positive, it will be handled according to regulations
For unvaccinated travelers, isolation at the place of residence for 7 days is required. COVID-19 test will be done on the third and seventh day
People entering under 18 years old and over 65 years old, pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions must be isolated with guardians or caregivers. The caregiver must have received the full dose of COVID-19 vaccine or recovered from COVID-19 and must sign a commitment to voluntarily self-isolate; must strictly comply with the requirements on testing and regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control like those on entry.