Ho Chi Minh City embraces quieter Christmas due to COVID-19

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Ho Chi Minh City embraces quieter Christmas due to COVID-19

The luxurious shopping center Diamond Plaza, with the holiday-themed decorations, sees just a few visitors this year’s Christmas. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre

Christmas is just around the corner! Saigonese can feel it in the air, but there is also a sense of caution.

With health concerns and with grief and loss still fresh, the pandemic has once again dampened the Christmas joy in Ho Chi Minh City.

The city’s iconic sights such as shopping malls, churches, and pedestrian streets see fewer gatherings and less jubilant atmosphere as Christmas nears.

The luxurious shopping center Diamond Plaza, alight with decorations, sadly welcomes just several visitors, a modest number compared to that of photographers and souvenir street vendors working there.

Four children are posing for a photo in front of a Christmas-themed backdrop at Nguyen Hue pedestrian street, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
Four children pose for a photo in front of a Christmas backdrop at Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre

Visitors are also reluctant to pray at the nearby Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, while pedestrians at the Nguyen Hue promenade just stop quickly, snap a few pictures, then leave.

“My whole family has just got over a challenging time when all the members caught the virus, so we decided to take a tour around the city to refresh our minds,” said Kim Anh, a local resident.

Normally, Anh’s family would be so eager to join the vibrant atmosphere during the holiday season. However, they found it different this year since they have just returned to their ‘new ‘normal.’

“Although we have been confirmed free of the virus, we must follow the COVID-19 safety regulations,” Anh added.

A souvenir street vendor in Ho Chi MInh City, sees sluggish sales as she has traded nothing during the day. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
A souvenir street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City sees sluggish sales as she has traded nothing during the day. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre

Triet, a resident in Tan Binh District, barely took a few photos for his wife and children at Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street and left quickly.

“We dropped by the street just to feel the Christmas air, instead of wandering around the city like we did in the past few years,” Triet said.

“Christmas has brought us a joyful time, but health and safety are our top priorities.”

Lien, a souvenir street vendor in Thu Duc City under Ho Chi Minh City, witnessed a huge drop in the number of visitors flocking to famous places compared to the previous years.

Diamond Plaza in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, decorated with dazzling Christmas backdrops, sees a drop in the number of visitors this year. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
Diamond Plaza in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, decorated with dazzling Christmas backdrops, sees a drop in the number of visitors this year. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre

She said that this year’s atmosphere feels somewhat gloomy and the COVID-19 pandemic dampens many businesses’ sales, as people are afraid of going to public places.

“This year is so harsh!” she shared.

“I have just sold around 20 percent of what I would sell a few years ago.”

Last year, Lien sold a lot even with her goods displayed only at noon, but this year, she has earned nothing since the morning.

Mplaza building in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, sees just a few visitors this year. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
The mPlaza Saigon building in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, welcomes just a few visitors this year. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
Families with small children stop by for a check-in and quickly leave the place due to the fear of COVID-19 infection. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
Families with small children stop by for a check-in and quickly leave the mPlaza Saigon building for fear of COVID-19 infection. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
A family is taking photos in front of a Christmas-themed backdrop. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
A family takes a wefie in front of a Christmas-themed backdrop in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre
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