Covid and measures to control it are impacting every country and its people. Here in Vietnam the Government takes strict measures to control/eliminate the virus and has attracted international commendation for its success to- date.
However, the future remains uncertain. The Government is clearly on high alert and determined to protect its people A vaccination program is being rolled out but the reality is that it will be some time before there is widespread coverage of the population.
All levels of the community are affected. Foreign residents and tourists in Vietnam are no exception. Many have been here for a very long time under extended visa arrangements and some already consider themselves integrated into their local communities. They have contributed to the community in various ways. Local businesses benefit from their support in difficult times. Many teach English to local families often on a voluntary basis.
However the stricter enforcement of Government restrictions on immigration now being implemented have caught many foreign residents and tourists unprepared. In many cases they are hearing for the very first time that their visas/work permits will not be extended further. That they must exit the country when current visas expire.
This information has given rise to considerable confusion, distress and great anxiety among the foreign community. Many are now compelled to terminate their lettings, dispose of possessions, their treasured family pets and part from local people with whom they had established long-lasting relationships. Many thousands appear to be affected in this way.
They feel that they are being compelled to undertake international travel in the middle of a pandemic without the benefit of a vaccine and when travel restrictions both domestic and international make travel unpredictable and an ordeal. In some instances return to the home country at this point may be almost impossible.
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Some hope that the Government in implementing regulations will sympathetically consider their plight and see its way to grant an amnesty for those already in the country prior to the pandemic. In their view, they present no additional Covid risk to the community.
While they struggle to come to terms with their situation they hope that the Government might find a way to ease their plight.
By Tom Coleman, an expat in Vietnam’s Hoi An
c/o Truong Thuy Truc (Ty)