New jersey vaccine requirements
|Vaccine passports – the future?, illustration photo, source: internet|
At the end of December, thousands of Europeans received the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine after the company received authorisation in the EU. Since then, other countries such as the US, Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, India, and several Asian countries, including Vietnam, have also started to receive or order vaccines to prepare for mass vaccination programmes.
This has awakened optimism about an end to the pandemic and the idea of a vaccine passport.
A heated discussion
Some parts of the world, such as the Seychelles, Cyprus, and Romania, have begun to remove quarantine requirements for visitors who have been vaccinated. In early January, Denmark also announced that it would issue vaccine passports to citizens within the next three to four months.
To get digital vaccine passports, Danish citizens will have to declare their medical and vaccination status on a government-issued app. Owners of such passports will be able to return to Denmark without quarantine and receive access to bars, restaurants, and hotels.
Iceland became the first European nation to issue vaccine certificates in late January. While Greece also announced it will unveil a digital vaccination certificate for those who have received two doses of the vaccine, Israel recently announced that a so-called Green Badge will allow vaccinated people to go to restaurants, attend public events, and travel freely. Other countries that are currently issuing or waiting for vaccine passports include the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden.
Despite being supported by several countries and seen as a necessary condition for freedom of movement, vaccine passports have received mixed reactions in many places. The UK, the first in the world to vaccinate people against COVID-19, had previously denied plans for vaccine passports to allow people to travel abroad, but they can ask for proof of vaccination in case they need to travel.
One of the reasons not to issue a vaccine passport is that COVID-19 vaccination is not compulsory in the UK, said MP Nadhim Zahawi. The EU is also divided over vaccine passports. Some, such as France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well as organisations like the World Health Organization and the European Commission, also argued that vaccine passports do not ensure safe travel.
In France, Health Minister Olivier Véran has repeatedly said it is too early to discuss vaccination passports since fewer than 2.5 million French people have received the first dose and because it is unclear whether the vaccine prevents transmission.
Meanwhile, Germany also advised not to loosen many of the restrictions. To date, the 27 EU member states have only agreed on mutual recognition of COVID-19 test results. The introduction of vaccine passports remains a story of the future, especially as more new coronavirus variants are discovered. The European Commission says it will not be rushed into a decision on passports while only 3 per cent of Europeans have been vaccinated.
The US also expressed caution with vaccine passports as President Biden asked government agencies to evaluate the feasibility of linking coronavirus vaccine certificates with other vaccination documents and producing digital versions of them.
Although controversies abound, governments and technology firms around the world are leaning towards using vaccine passports to recover the economy and revive the tourism and entertainment industries.
Some companies and tech groups like IBM have also started to develop smartphone applications where users can upload detailed information about their tests and vaccinations to create a digital health certificate or use QR codes to display their vaccination status to the authorities without disclosing sensitive information.
Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the UN’s World Tourism Organization, has called on the world to apply vaccine passports on a larger scale as an indispensable element for the tourism industry’s recovery.
“One key element vital for the restart of tourism is consistency and harmonisation of rules and protocols regarding international travel,” he said in an email. “Evidence of vaccination, for example, through the coordinated introduction of what may be called ‘health passports’ can offer this. They can also eliminate the need for quarantine on arrival, a policy which is also standing in the way of the return of international tourism.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports vaccine passports and also piloted their digital application called IATA Travel Pass piloted on Singapore Airlines flights late last year. IATA said it could expand the programme to other destinations if the pilot is successful.
Singapore Airlines also plans to incorporate health certifications into a mobile app in mid-2021. Passengers who have tested for COVID-19 at clinics designated by the airline will be issued an electronic certificate with a QR code or a paper health certificate.
Some airlines, like Qantas, said they would make vaccine documentation mandatory on all flights while Gulf Air, Emirates, and Etihad will test a travel pass designed by the IATA.
In Vietnam, the first batch of vaccines was imported a few days ago as the first happy signal for reopening. Once the country is truly safe from the pandemic, ministries and departments will study to issue a passport similar to the vaccine passports.
However, tourism expert Truong Nam Thang, a member of tourism research projects of the Tourism Advisory Board and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said that by December, the nation will temporarily achieve herd immunity in key economic and tourism cities. By June 2022, Vietnam hopes to reach herd immunity across the country.
Thus, it will not be until the end of the second quarter of 2022 that Vietnam can normalise international trade as well as gradually restore tourism and international travel.
By Thai Anh
From March 8, Hanoi will remove social distancing on means of public transport.
Spraying disinfectant on buses.
The Hanoi Department of Transport has also issued detailed instructions on prevention and control of Covid-19 in the new situation on intra-municipal passenger transport vehicles.
Accordingly, public transport vehicles still have to seriously take measures to prevent the Covid-19 epidemic, implementing the government’s 5K message.
The Ministry of Health previously announced a message featuring 5K (in Vietnamese) Khau trang (facemask)- (Khu khuan) disinfection- (Khoang cach) distance- (Khong tu tap) no gathering – (Khai bao y te) health declaration to help citizens get used to living safely with the COVID-19 pandemic in a ‘new normal’ state.
Public transport vehicles must have hand sanitizer solution (at least 60% alcohol content) and trash cans with lid.
Transport enterprises and vehicle owners have to require drivers, attendants and passengers to wear masks during the entire trip, and disinfect vehicle surfaces before and immediately after each trip.
Transport firms and bus stations must strictly comply with the regulations on medical declarations using QR Code.
Since February 16 Hanoi has not recorded new cases of Covid-19 and basically has controlled the situation, but risks are high as the pandemic still exists.
Risks come from foreign experts who enter Vietnam for work, illegal entries via land border, and students from other provinces who are returning to Hanoi for resuming study.
Hanoi authorities affirmed that ny loosening social activities, the tightening of epidemic prevention and control must be performed at a higher level.
|Bold new approach for digital banking (source: freepik.com)|
By Vu Thanh Minh and Ha Thanh An Lawyers, LNT & Partners
In addition to a number of notable changes relating to opening bank accounts, long-awaited reform via Circular 16 is the detailed regulation on opening individual payment accounts at credit institutions by electronic know-your-customer (eKYC). This is the first legal instrument that provides detailed guidance on its implementation.
The system is used to verify customer’s identity against the declared information in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, with support from video call and AI technologies such as face-matching for photos on ID card, or optical character recognition to read and extract information, instantly comparing personal information with a centralised database of user identity. Thus, bank account opening and customer onboarding become much easier, as customers do not need to go to a branch to open a bank account.
In the past, under Decree No.116/2013/ND-CP guiding the Law on Anti-money Laundering and the aforementioned Circular 23, the first meeting between the bank and client must be face-to-face if the latter wishes to open a bank account. However, reflecting the development of 4.0 technology, in November 2019 the government issued Decree No.87/2019/ND-CP detailing the implementation of a number of articles of the Law on Anti-money Laundering, of which Article 8.2 stated that the bank can “decide whether to meet the client in person when the relationship is first established”.
These developments are now mirrored in Circular 16, thereby allowing commercial banks to decide whether to meet clients in person when the latter wishes to open a bank account, and to decide which methods, forms and technologies it wishes to use to identify and verify a client.
However, the SBV also requires banks to adopt necessary technologies and procedures for risk management, and adequately store and manage information/data used for identifying clients. Regarding transaction limits, except for some cases where banks are allowed to apply a higher transaction limit, transactions made from an electronically opened account must not exceed VND100 million ($4,350) per month per customer in aggregate.
In addition to important regulations on eKYC, Circular 16 also provides for a number of notable changes relating to the opening of bank accounts.
Firstly, Circular 16 clarifies that a legal entity can represent a person to open a checking account. In such cases, documents that can be used to identify such legal entities must be included in the application to open a checking account.
Secondly, a bank or foreign bank branch is allowed to stipulate the components of the application dossier and prescribe the application form for opening a shared checking account. The bank or foreign bank branch is also entitled to agree with its client on whether or not foreign language documents included in the application must be translated into Vietnamese. This is a completely new addition to Circular 23.
Lastly, Circular 16 supplements regulation on the use of standard form contracts on opening and use of checking accounts. Accordingly, if the bank or foreign bank branch in question uses a standard form contract for the opening and use of checking accounts, it must make the standard form contract publicly available on its website, mobile banking app (if any), and its lawful transaction locations.
In light of the above, international and domestic banks in Vietnam are gearing up to boost their eKYC process to provide customers with a seamless on-board experience and reduce paper-based procedures. Indeed, a number of commercial banks such as HDBank, TPBank, VPBank, and Sacombank have applied eKYC to open accounts for customers.
Digital banking and non-cash payment are some of the goals that the laws of Vietnam are aiming for in the near future. In the first six months of 2020, non-cash payments increased by 180 per cent. This trend necessitates the completion of a sound legal framework. In this context, Circular 16 with the regulation on eKYC could be considered an important premise for development of digital payment and banking in Vietnam.
Slated to take effect on March 5, Circular 16 is expected to provide a legal platform for this, as well as paving the way for more foreign credit institutions, banks, and tech companies on eKYC to enter and develop the Vietnamese market.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health recorded only one domestic COVID-19 case on Sunday, a day before the nation starts mass inoculation with AstraZeneca.
The latest local infection was registered in Hai Duong Province, which is the country’s current epicenter.
The patient had been exposed to an infection and been quarantined since February 25.
The health ministry also logged four imported cases the same day, including two in Bac Ninh Province in the north and two in Kien Giang Province in the south.
Vietnam had gone nearly two months without any domestic COVID-19 cases before it found the first one on January 27 and confirmed it one day later, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.
A total of 892 local cases have been announced in 13 provinces and cities since then, making it the most serious wave to have struck Vietnam after the first-ever COVID-19 patient was announced in the country on January 23, 2020.
Hai Duong alone accounts for 708 cases, while Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have confirmed 35 and 36 patients, respectively.
The southern city has recorded zero new local cases for 24 days.
Vietnam has recorded 2,512 coronavirus cases as of Sunday night, including 1,585 local infections and 35 virus-related fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.
A total of 1,920 patients have recovered from the respiratory disease.
The dead had suffered from comorbid medical problems, including 31 in Da Nang, three in Quang Nam Province, and one in Quang Tri Province.
Vietnam will start vaccinating people in the said provinces and cities as well as other priority groups , including frontline workers, diplomats, military and police officers, and teachers on Monday.
The country currently has 117,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses it received on February 24 .
Vietnam aims to obtain 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year, including 30 million through the COVAX scheme co-led by WHO, 30 million through AstraZeneca, and the rest through negotiations with U.S. producers.