Vietnam drops COVID-19 pandemic protocols for foreign arrivals hinh anh 1Customs clearance at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Ministry of Health on March 15 officially issued the long-awaited COVID-19 protocols for foreign entry into Vietnam. Under the new procedures, visitors with negative coronavirus tests can enjoy quarantine-free travel from day one.

Travelers entering Vietnam via air routes will have to present proof of negative SARS-CoV-2 tests (except for children under two years old) done within 72 hours prior to departure in cases of RT-PCR/RT-LAMP or within 24 hours in cases of rapid antigen tests. Results must be certified by the authorities of the country where the tests are conducted.

People entering via road, sea, and rail will be subjected to the same requirements.

If entrants cannot show proof of negative tests, they are required to take a test (either using RT-PCR/RT-LAMP method or rapid antigen tests) in the first 24 hours of arrival.

If the results are negative, they may travel outside of their place of accommodation, with public health measures still in place. If the results are positive, they must notify health authorities for further instructions.

Children under two years old are not required to take COVID-19 tests. They can still enter Vietnam and take part in activities outside of the place of accommodation with their parents or relatives even if they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or contracted the virus before.

Arrivals must make medical declaration before entering and use Vietnam’s COVID-19 mobile application PC-COVID, available in both Vietnamese and English on both iOS and Android, during their entire stay according to regulations.

At the border gate, if one shows symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, breathing difficulties and respiratory infection, etc), they must immediately notify the health agency at the border gate as regulated.

No mandatory quarantine is required, but in the first 10 days after entry, people should self-monitor their health and if any symptoms develop, ask for assistance from the nearest medical facilities.

Visitors are asked to frequently wear masks and disinfect their hands.

People without negative COVID-19 results prior to entry are asked to not make rest stops and make contact with other people along the way from the border gate to their place of accommodation.

Some prominent omissions in the latest official set of COVID-19 rules is that there is no longer a requirement for the COVID-19 vaccination or recent recovery certificates. Travelers also do not require multiple tests before and after entry, or to avoiding gathering or keeping safe distance, like in previous proposed plans from the ministry.

The guidelines were released after the country fully reopened international tourism activities and reinstated pre-pandemic entry and exit regulations. They replace all other previous COVID-19 rules for foreign entries and the health ministry asks local authorities and State agencies to quickly direct their implementation to avoid spreading the virus among the travelers and the community.

It is hoped the relaxed regulations will ease concerns from domestic tour operators who have been desperate to welcome back foreign tourists after two years of severe disruptions caused by the pandemic.

With these new COVID-19 guidelines, international visitors entering Vietnam will be “treated the same way” as domestic visitors, as Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has promised.

According to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son, the new daily COVID-19 cases in Vietnam continue to increase and Omicron variant has been circulating in the community. However, with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, hospitalisations and deaths from the virus remain at manageable levels, and the guidelines are part of the efforts to safely and flexibly adapt to, and effectively control the pandemic./.