Vietnam has been continuously adding new restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge across major cities. After extending the implementation of Directive 16 in Ho Chi Minh City for another week, a 6pm-to-6am movement control has also been imposed. In Hanoi, which is also now under lockdown, deliveries are suspended.
But as the government seeks more ways to stop the further rise of community infections, there are those who’ve turned a blind eye to the new rules.
Just recently, hundreds of cases of pandemic prevention violations were reported in Hanoi. About 250 people were caught not wearing face masks in public, while 11 businesses are now subject to suspension for continuing their operations despite closure mandates. As many as 135 cases have been reported for failure to take isolation measures. All these violations are worth VND1 billion ($65,300) in fines.
On the first days of Ho Chi Minh City’s lockdown, social distancing violations were quickly spotted and reported. A video of a man exercising outdoors without face mask went viral weeks ago, where he insisted on doing push-ups inside a cordoned area. He was later fined VND4 million ($173). Other cases of contraventions even amounted to nearly VND100 million ($4,355).
Intentionally done or not, these rule breaches did not just endanger the health of the violators and those of their loved ones but also hurt their wallets.
How much does each COVID-19 rule break cost, and what happens to those who fail to comply with the government’s restrictions?
Those who fail to wear masks in public spaces face a maximum fine of VND3 million ($132).
Those who are found to have improperly disposed used masks could face a maximum fine of VND1 million ($44). A higher fine of VND2 million ($88) will be imposed if masks were thrown onto the street or sidewalks.
People who deliberately hide their health status or others’ will be subject to a fine of VND20 million ($876).
People who fail to submit for the COVID-19 test following the requirements of a medical organization will be fined VND3 million ($132).
Food stalls and dining venues that insist on opening even after being ordered to close down (or move to a shipping-only business mode) will be subject to a maximum fine of VND20 million ($876) for individuals and VND40 million ($1,750) for organizations.
Individuals or businesses that fail to follow business restriction orders in public spaces could face fines up to VND20 million ($876) and VND40 million ($1,750), respectively.
Those who do not observe the authorities’ instructions on medical observation and safety protocols before entering or exiting virus-hit regions could face a maximum fine of VND30 million ($1,300).
People who escape from quarantine sites, violate quarantine protocols, or reject or evade compulsory quarantine could receive an administrative fine of VND20 million ($876). If their action causes infections in other people, they will be criminally tried and may be imprisoned for a maximum of 12 years.
People who escape from quarantine sites, violate quarantine protocols, reject or evade compulsory quarantine — resulting in VND100 million in additional costs for the authorities to contain COVID-19 — will be criminally tried in line with Article 295 of Vietnam’s Penal Code on violations of regulations regarding occupational safety and hygiene in crowded areas. The highest punishment is 12 years imprisonment.
People who fail to report accurate and complete health status, resulting in the spread of the coronavirus, face criminal liability in line with Penal Code Article 240. They may also be sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in addition to a fine of VND100 million ($4,380).
Posting fake news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic could result in an administrative fine of up to VND15 million ($657) or criminal liability with up to seven years of imprisonment and a fine of VND200 million ($8,760).
Resorting to violence, threatening to use violence, or hindering law enforcement in their efforts to contain COVID-19 will be criminally tried under the Penal Code’s Article 330 on “resisting law enforcement in the discharge of their duties” with up to seven years imprisonment.
Owners of service businesses like bars, discos, karaoke bars, massage parlors or beauty salons — whose defiance of temporary closure orders lead to VND100 million in damage and costs for the authorities — would be tried under the Penal Code’s Article 295 with up to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of VND50 million ($2,190).
People who exploit the scarcity or create artificial scarcity during the pandemic by buying in large quantities and stockpiling goods that are in the Government’s price control list in an attempt to resell and make illicit gains are subject to administrative fines and imprisonment sentences depending on the value of the goods they hoard. The sentence is up to 15 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of VND200 million ($8,760).
People who take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to show fake information about medicines to appropriate the property of others will be punished with 20 years of imprisonment and VND100 million ($4,380).
People being responsible for the pandemic prevention and control but who fail to execute their duty will be punished based on Article 360 of Vietnam’s Penal Code with 12 years of imprisonment.