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How Saigon Is Coping With Life During Covid-19

People across the world are coming to understand the meaning of the apocryphal curse “may you live in interesting times.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has upended normal life around the globe. Yet amidst the challenges and hardships, citizens, communities and businesses are finding ways to adapt.

Quick to close schools and borders, enact quarantines, enforce social distancing and shut businesses, Vietnam has deserved praise for its response. Such measures will likely prove to have saved thousands of lives, but they have also resulted in drastic lifestyle changes. 

Once a frenzy of activity and exuberance, Saigon’s busy streets have gone mostly quiet. A few people and essential workers stroll past closed shops, deserted restaurants and empty schools. Yet many of these have found innovative ways to function, providing important stability to employees and locals alike.

Saigon’s Kitchens Stay Open

On March 24th, authorities ordered all restaurants to close. After some initial confusion, it became clear that they would not have to fully cease operations. Most ovens, grills and fryers remain functioning thanks to the city’s robust delivery network via in-house efforts or third-party apps. 

In addition to remaining open, many have implemented new discounts and offers including innovative in-house private-chef dining. While perhaps not great for our Covid-era waistlines, the efforts are keeping a lot of people fed and safely at home while providing much-needed paychecks for industry workers.

Grocery stores are helping farmers move their goods, but agricultural industries have also taken a hit due to disruptions in global trade. When dragonfruit was piling up at the northern border in danger of rotting, local bakeries stepped in, using it to make bright pink bread. International fast-food chains even got in on the action

Freshly baked bánh mì thanh long. Photo via Vien Vong.


Keeping Students Learning, Co-Workers Collaborating

One of the largest disruptions to many families was the order that schools not re-open after the Tet holiday. While some parents had to scramble to arrange chidcare situations, they could have some assurances that their children’s educations could continue thanks to transitions to online models reliant on technology. By March, for example, Google announced that they’d seen hundreds of thousands of new sign-ups for their Google Suites and Meetups in Hong Kong and Vietnam alone.

Similar online tools have helped offices continue business as normal. The shift to remote work has resulted in video-conferencing and cloud-computing software being some of the few positive spots in the global economy, with some stocks reporting record increases in value

Lifestyle Services Assist Those in Need

In response to the number of people staying at home, in addition to restaurants, many Vietnamese are turning to delivery services for all their daily needs. Everything from toiletries to books and, of course, masks have been zipping around the country on motorbikes. Vietnam’s industry leader, Tiki, has seen a massive uptick in purchases, with up to 5,000 orders per minute. 

Of course, not everyone who lived in Vietnam before the pandemic has been able to stay. For some, the disruptions to their lives have extended far beyond simply having to shop online or telecommute. As the situation worsened globally and rumors of the eventual flight restrictions came, many faced tough choices. Plenty of foreign residents who were worried about families and friends in their home countries decided they needed to leave Vietnam, at least temporarily.

Such a quick move is not so easily done, however. What to do with potentially years of accumulated possessions? Businesses like MyStorage, thankfully, had an answer to that, with their clean, cimate-controlled and tightly-secured storage units. Assisted by expert teams of movers who take care of all packing and transport needs, they’ve helped reduce much of the stress and concern for Saigon’s foreign residents who have had to leave for an unknowable amount of time.

Moreover, MyStorage has proven extremely useful for the many Vietnamese students who are returning from abroad, often with an entire dorm room’s worth of items. For many families, there simply isn’t room for everything, and thus an affordable and convenient MyStorage unit is a great solution. And for those that have had to, unfortunately, abruptly close a business or store, the units can help keep merchandise and furnishings until more stable times return.

Keeping Positive with Reasons to Smile

A nice aspect of the city’s quieter streets has been a marked improvement in air quality. And because Vietnam isn’t experiencing the strict stay-at-home orders as some countries, residents have taken to casual walks during the cooler hours. The most inspiring of these scenes may be the kites that have filled the skies in Thu Thiem most nights. Amidst all the chaos and fear, they’ve been a great cause for optimism and proof of humanity’s ability to find joy in even the most difficult of times.

And those unable to go outdoors have found it to be a time for creativity, with a number of heartwarming memes and viral videos. Beyond the global hit Covid-19 song and accompanying dance, we’ve seen influencers and common people alike release a series of videos, including many on how dancing can alleviate the boredom of quarantine.

The pandemic may have upset nearly every aspect of our daily lives here in Vietnam, but it’s comforting to see all the ways in which people have adapted. From restaurants to schools to storage facilities, there are ways to cope; solutions to our situations abound.