Returning to Work in Ho Chi Minh City after Social Distancing


With social distancing over, Vietnam has started to move towards the “new normal” of post-COVID-19. This alert will hopefully help Vietnamese enterprises to prepare for recovery in this “new normal” and in taking the necessary steps to transition workforces back to work safely. 

Earlier this month, Ho Chi Minh City launched an online app to evaluate COVID-19 safety levels for businesses. This application is a tool for evaluating infection risk indices promulgated under Decision No. 1203/QD-UBND issued by the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City on 6 April 2020 (“Decision 1203”). According to Decision 1203, enterprises located in Ho Chi Minh City can access the app to make a self-evaluation on COVID-19 infection risks. Only enterprises having total infection risk indices of less than 10% are permitted to continue business operations. Enterprises having total infection risk indices ranging from 20% to 80% may maintain business operation if they show a regular reduction in their index if they are already operating or must reduce their rates prior to recommencement of business operations. Enterprises having infection risk indices from 80% must stop operations.

Following are recommended methods to reduce an enterprise's infection risk index and to ensure occupational safety and hygiene at the workplace for employees:

  • For office environments, keep a safe distance of at least two meters, move workstations apart to ensure this safe distance or install physical barriers between workstations;
  • Check employees’ body temperature and Covid-19 symptoms upon arrival each day;
  • Reduce employees’ contact with high risk contact points, i.e., fingerprint scanners; open windows where possible or adjust air conditioning for more ventilation; regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, equipment and other elements of the workplace;
  • Provide adequate means to employees for prevention and control of COVID-19, such as: (i) wipes and cleaning products so that employees can clean their desks prior to and on completion of their work; (ii) hand gel, soap and clean washing facilities and (iii) personal protective equipment, i.e., gloves and face masks;
  • Install signs to remind employees to keep workplaces clean and disinfect their hands regularly;
  • Provide training on how to communicate with customers and what to do if the customers refuse to adhere;
  • Limit food handling and sharing in the workplace;
  • Consider cancelling non-essential meetings or hold meetings via video conferencing / phone call and instruct employees to reduce the meeting attendees and only have meetings in small groups (2-3 people);
  • Ask employees experiencing any cold or flu symptoms to stay or work at home and declare medical information;
  • Conduct remote recruitment by online assessments, conducting video interviews, etc.; and
  • Consider issuing COVID-19 guidance handbooks for the workplace and training employees in new rules.

These prevention measures will help employers to ensure their obligation to keep workplace safety requirements. Accordingly, enterprises can begin the process of restoring operations smoothly and prevent disruption of business due to COVID-19 in the future.


Le Thi Khanh Hoan

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