Vietnam ends COVID-19 quarantine for international travellersHo Chi Minh City residents are now barred from gathering in groups larger than pairs in public AFP/Huu Khoa

HANOI— Vietnam announced an end to quarantine for international travellers on Wednesday (Mar 16), as it seeks to restart its tourism industry after two years of strict COVID-19 restrictions.

The only virus requirement for visitors will be a negative COVID-19 test, the country’s ministry of health said in a statement.

The communist state’s tourism sector was worth up to US$32 billion a year before the pandemic, but it ground to a standstill during the pandemic as the government restricted travel.

Virus curbs have slowly been eased in recent months, with visitors trickling back in since November to play golf at resorts, under a bubble arrangement.

Vietnam also announced the resumption of 15 days’ visa-free travel for citizens from 13 countries: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Belarus.

The country, which has a population of 97 million, is still reporting nearly 200,000 new COVID-19 cases a day as the Omicron variant sweeps through.

But the health ministry says the situation “remains under control” with hospitalisation and death rates staying low.

Officials attribute that to the high vaccination rate, with 98 per cent of adults fully inoculated according to the health ministry.

The country is making efforts to roll out booster jabs to the population while preparing to vaccinate children and young teenagers.