Ho Chi Minh City has allowed sit-down food and beverage services to reopen from Thursday, after nearly five months of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a decision of the municipal administration.
The decision came as Vietnam is easing strict COVID-19 restrictions, which had been applied for several months, to reactivate socio-economic activities under 'new normal conditions,' a euphemism for living safely with the coronavirus.
City authorities required restaurants and diners to stop offering in-person services in May to stall transmissions that have decelerated over the past few weeks owing to social distancing measures and a nationwide vaccination campaign.
Under the decision issued on Wednesday, all dine-in eateries in the city are required to operate at no more than 50 percent of their normal capacity, to close by 9:00 pm every day, and not to serve alcoholic drinks to guests on the spot, except for those organizing wedding parties or serving customers at travel destinations and tourist accommodation facilities.
However, the municipal administration assigned the authorities of District 7 and Thu Duc City to consider and decide on implementing a pilot plan for local eateries to offer alcoholic drinks from now until November 15.
The outcomes of the trial will form a basis for the city to decide on whether alcoholic beverages should be allowed in other districts, the decision said.
The Department of Health is required to guide all food and drink caterers to comply with current epidemic prevention and control rules.
The Department of Information and Communications is told to provide eateries with instructions on applying technological solutions to epidemic prevention at their facilities, including scanning QR codes and electronic health declarations.
On September 8, when the COVID-19 situation was more complicated than now, the municipal administration allowed food and beverage service providers to sell takeaways to their customers only.
Around ten days ago, the city's Department of Industry and Trade proposed that the municipal authorities permit the sit-down service to resume in order to boost the ongoing tourism restoration plan and promote economic recovery.
Since erupting in Vietnam in early 2020, the pandemic has caused 425,116 infections and 16,575 deaths in Ho Chi Minh City, the Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday.
Nationwide, a total of 900,585 cases, including 812,314 recoveries and 21,856 deaths, have been recorded.
Recently, the country's daily new infections and deaths have sharply fallen, to 4,411 and 54 on Wednesday from 9,362 and 174 a month earlier.
Ho Chi Minh City saw its daily new cases and fatalities drop to 1,140 and 32 on Wednesday compared to 4,134 and 122 a month ago, according to the ministry's data.
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