Vietnam News

Foreigners conflicted about allowing people into Vietnam with vaccine passport

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While foreigners would like the government to allow them in with vaccine passports, people living in Vietnam are wary.

“I’ve just gotten my first Covid-19 vaccine today,” Ross Clement, a pastry chef living in Australia, says, unable to hide his excitement.

“Now I can think about coming back to Vietnam with my passport to see my fiancée.

He had left Ho Chi Minh City in February 2020 and could not return to take his fiancée to Perth as planned for their wedding in April because of the border closure. They had to cancel the wedding.

Until the pandemic broke out he used to visit Vietnam every month.

He remembers the day he was told he would not be allowed to fly in.

“It was very hard in the beginning, emotionally and mentally.”

Clement and his fiancée would make video calls every day. He would try to console her saying: “We should be patient; it may not last long.” But on some days he would feel distraught himself.

He closely follows news about the vaccine passport in Vietnam.

For Lateese Ford, an American, the wait has been even longer: He has not seen his wife and kids in Da Nang since December 2019. He went to the U.S. for business and could not make it back before the borders were closed.

Initially surprised, he had thought “it might last two or three months.” His wife was worried about him as a bumbling U.S. administration allowed the pandemic to wreak havoc.

Their jewelry store in Da Nang is closed and now sells online.

“It’s been really stressful for her. I miss her and my kids so much.”

An accountant, he worked online and then went to Ecuador to avoid the despairing sense of “being stuck.” He hopes to go to the U.S in April, get the vaccine and return to Vietnam where he has been living since 2017. A lot of his friends have got shots, and the vaccination process is becoming smooth.

Safe places

Clement says the Vietnamese government could identify safe places and allow entry for people coming from there. The criterion should be no infection in the community in that place, which has been the situation in Perth for over a year, he says.

It should also carefully consider transit destinations to make sure there is no risk, he says, pointing out that Singapore, for instance, is safe for people traveling to Vietnam to pass through.

Clement hopes to fly to Vietnam after having a second shot next month. He is ready to be quarantined for 14 days though he would have a certificate at that time.

These days he checks the news every morning to decide if he can pack his bags.

Ford says the green light from Vietnam for foreigners to enter is “all he is waiting for” though he realizes the U.S. is not considered a safe place.

But he believes that by June or July this year a majority of Americans will be vaccinated, and the country will then be looked upon as safe.

“It’s been 14 months, and so the sense of urgency passed a long time ago,” he says when asked about how badly he wants to return to Vietnam.

Caution

Skip Carver, an American living in Bac Lieu Province, says if the government decides to use vaccine passports, it should give priority to people with family in Vietnam first, both foreigners and Vietnamese.

But he agrees that the 14-day quarantine should remain in place.

Though he would like his daughter to be able to travel to Vietnam as they had planned, he is also wary of the risks of allowing people to travel yet.

Rienk Jan Schurer, a Dutchman living in HCMC, says a vaccine passport might be a great idea but he is afraid of what will be the common standard.

“It feels like the next months will be the wild west with all the new safety standards.

“How do you prove something is authentic and not a fake document?”

People think the vaccine and a vaccination passport is the new normal, but there is no clear proof that following a shot a person is no longer a spreader, he points out.

He would love to travel back to Europe when the continent has Covid-19 under control. He and his wife had canceled their trip last year.

But he says he could wait for his shot since the vaccine should first be given to the old, infirm and people working on the frontlines.

He thinks it could take six or eight months before he knows about his chances of getting vaccinated.

Alexander Marco Burkhardt, a German living in HCMC, supports using a vaccine passport, especially for traveling and business, “as many people’s income is depending on that.”

But he said Vietnam should be cautious to keep its achievement in containing the pandemic so far.

Chris Devoize, a Frenchman, presented a dichotomy. He is not sure if Vietnam should accept vaccine passports at this time because there are still many things people do not know about the vaccine.

He too expresses the fear that being vaccinated does not prevent a person from being a spreader.

But he would himself like to get a vaccine passport as soon as possible so that he could travel back to France to see his family.

Echoing scientists, he says having a high percentage of the population vaccinated is the only way to stop the pandemic, and vaccine passports will surely encourage people who want to travel or work abroad get vaccinated.

“[However], maybe Vietnam should wait a bit more before accepting people from other countries.”

By Viet Anh – VnExpress.net – March 23, 2021 

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