Vietnam will roll back the ultra-strict lockdown in its largest city on Friday, ending nearly three months of restrictions.
Residents of Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of 10 million, will be able to leave their homes, restaurants will be able to serve take-out meals and other essential businesses will be able to open, the city announced on its website on Thursday.
For the past four weeks, residents of Ho Chi Minh have been banned from leaving their homes, even for food – basic supplies have been delivered door to door by the military.
A social distancing order will still be enforced. Schools are closed, public transport remains suspended, movement inside and outside the city will be controlled and public gatherings of more than 10 people outside are prohibited.
People wishing to participate in social activities will need to show proof of vaccination to be admitted to facilities, authorities said.
Ho Chi Minh City and 18 southern provinces were stranded in mid-July when cases started to rise.
In the past three months, the delta variant of the virus has infected 770,000 people and killed more than 19,000.
Over the past week, the average number of new cases in Vietnam fell by a third from the start of the month, when 14,000 were recorded daily, the health ministry said.
In the city of Vung Tau, 70 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, barricades erected in the streets to control traffic during containment were brought down to the applause of residents.
“We will have to celebrate this day, for the city to remove the barricades so that we can go out again and resume normal life,” said resident Pham Van Thanh as he helped officers remove a barricade on his street.
Last week, the Ho Chi Minh City health authority approved reducing the interval between two AstraZeneca injections to six weeks to fully immunize people quickly.
The health ministry says 98.5% of adults in the city have been vaccinated and 48% of them have received both vaccines.
However, Vietnam’s overall vaccination rate remains low with only 9.3% of its 98 million population fully vaccinated. The authority said the lack of supply was the reason for the delay in virus inoculation.