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Vietnam proposes South-East Asia travel bubble between safe countries

HANOI, Sept 12 (dpa): Vietnam has proposed setting up a travel bubble within South-East Asia that would see visitors transported across the region to tourist hotspots in areas considered safe from Covid-19, state media said on Thursday.

Nguyen Manh Tien, deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Committee at Vietnam's National Assembly, suggested the idea during a meeting on South-East Asia's economy as part of an ongoing summit held by Asean member states. Tien's idea is to permit a slight reopening of borders to allow for international tourism within the region. The tourism travel bubbles would include routes to and from popular tourist destinations.

Tourists would only visit these specific areas and would also be required to get tested for the virus in order to complete the trip, local media reports. The suggestion arrives as Vietnam seems to be opening up to the idea of resuming international flights. At the end of March, the nation slammed shut to almost all international flights to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On Sept 2, Vietnam's aviation authority proposed resuming weekly air routes to Guangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Cambodia and Laos starting September 15.

Vietnam has so far reported 1,060 coronavirus cases and 35 deaths related to the virus. No new community transmissions of the virus have been reported in the last week.

The Vietnam News reported that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Ministry of Transport (MoT) to direct airlines to consider the resumption of international commercial flights with some countries and regions, after months of border closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He made the request at a cabinet meeting with the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control held on Friday in Hanoi.

The PM suggested opening flights for people transiting is countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan (China), Laos and Cambodia before entering Vietnam.

The MoT are tasked to work with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal with issues relating to the reopening of international flights including choosing groups of entries to be given priority as well as airports involved.

These ministries are supposed to work together to expedite the entry process while preventive measures are still in place.

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Originally published: https://www.thestar.com.my

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