In photos: Ho Chi Minh City alleys in stark desolation because of COVID-19
Once a dynamic metropolis with a vibrant street lifestyle, Ho Chi Minh City has now been in deep hibernation since the elevated social distancing mandate was introduced over a week ago.
Deep, winding alleyways are seen as the veritable arteries of Ho Chi Minh City, as they provide shelter, livelihoods, and a sense of community for a working-class populace of millions and growing, who, for the most part, are domestic immigrants.
However, as the city has faced the worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, the flow of life down these alleys seemed to have come to an abrupt halt.
In June and early July, Ho Chi Minh City emerged as the country’s gravest outbreak site, with its caseload rising steeply by the thousands, which prompted authorities to put the city under a tightened social distancing mandate that forbids public gatherings of over two, bans non-essential businesses and services, and requires people to stay home.
In areas under lockdown due to high risk of infection, barricade tape has been weaved in entrance spots, bringing a sense of peril while effectively blocking the neighborhoods from the outside world.
However, few exchanges are still made through the tape line, as delivery workers remain on duty to carry food and necessities to sequestered people.
In the face of hard times, neighborly spirit -- a through line in Ho Chi Minh City’s way of living -- has been highlighted once again, as people try to uplift each other despite having to keep a two-meter distance.
“I care for Saigon, including its smallest alleyways,” said Hoang Ho Phi Long, a city dweller in District 1, referring to the former name of the city still in popular use.
“It was not long ago when the xoi [sticky rice] peddler was still out there, the xe om [motorbike taxi] rider taking a nap on his bike, and children playing outside, making noise. It’s nothing but silence now.
“I hope Saigon can soon heal, so we can all return to our everyday life.”
A man is seen in a alley on Ton Dan Street, District 4, during the elevated social distancing mandate in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
Residents in an alley on Xom Chieu Street, District 4 banter while keeping a safe distance during the elevated social distancing mandate in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre
A locked-down alley on Dinh Tien Hoang Street in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
An elder woman walks with a crutch while holding a bag of necessities on Ton Dan Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
A delivery worker rides his bike on Ton Dan Street, District 4 during the elevated social distancing mandate in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
A bicycle rider is seen with his mask down during the elevated social distancing mandate in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
A “Blind alley, do not enter” sign put up at the entrance of an alley in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre
Residents walking on Ton Dan Street, District 4 fetch bags of necessities during the elevated social distancing mandate in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
Residents in a lockdown area of Ho Chi Minh City receive items from delivery workers. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
A man walks in an alley near the Thanh Da apartment building in Binh Thanh District during the elevated social distancing mandate in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre
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