Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30

Laos To Enter Full Lockdown Starting March 30 (Photo Phoonsab Thevongsa)

Government Spokesperson and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Chalern Yapaoher headed a press conference just moments ago, in which he outlined the details of the Prime Minister’s Order regarding the country’s new and upgraded COVID-19 regulations.

The measures have been summarized for the purpose of expediency for this article. The full document in Lao language can be viewed here.

Public servants (state workers) are to work from home April 1-11, and will be on holiday leave to observe the Lao New Year holiday until April 19, except for military and police officers, firefighters, water and electrical (utilities) company staff, media personnel, doctors and nurses, volunteers, and other individuals that have been authorized to remain at work to combat the spread of the disease.

It is prohibited for all people (nationals, expatriates, stateless individuals) to leave their homes or domiciles except for the following reasons: to buy essential goods, to visit hospitals, to perform other tasks (on behalf of the businesses permitted to remain open), or to engage in various government authorized tasks. Agricultural workers may continue to engage in production in order to maintain their livelihoods. Village administrations must strictly oversee the implementation of these new regulations in order to monitor the number and scope of people outside at any given time.

It is prohibited for people to travel to other provinces or areas where there are known infected cases or at-risk areas except for the following necessary purposes: to transport commercial goods and to visit hospitals. Health and other relevant authorities must set up checkpoints to inspect the health and documents of people traveling in and out of provinces. All passenger transportation services are to be temporarily suspended.

It is prohibited to either hoard or to increase the price of essential goods that are necessary for virus prevention such as face masks, hand gel, medication, other medical equipment, rice, food, water, and other items. Police officers must strictly monitor and enforce this measure by imposing fines and other lawful penalties.

It is prohibited to spread news and information that are false, misleading, and engendering societal panic. Relevant officials must stand by ready to enforce measures upon violators. 

It is prohibited to organize gatherings of any sort of more than 10 people. Cultural events, Lao New Year festivities, religious gatherings, weddings, and other recreational activities are prohibited. Exceptions include funerals and other related processions but these must strictly adhere to standards set by the special task force: temperature screenings, 2-meter physical self-distancing, wearing of masks, and washing of hands with soap.

International and interprovincial and traditional borders must remain closed to all people. Only transport vehicles that have explicit authorization to transport commercial goods may cross these borders. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must handle the affairs of foreign nationals wishing to return to their home countries.

All entertainment venues, massage and spa parlors, karaoke and beer gardens, sports and fitness gyms, and night markets must remain closed. Garment factories and other large manufacturing plants and projects are to be closed except for factories that produce consumable items, medicines, and other medical equipment. However, they must follow strict procedures stipulated by the task force to protect against infection. Owners of closed factories must administer the self-imposed isolation of their workers in their homes and provide social welfare during this time.

The following businesses and services shall be allowed to remain open: banks, financial institutions, stock market, stock brokerages, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies, rescue teams (emergency accidents), post offices, telecommunications providers, utilities (electricity and water companies), waste disposal services, agricultural markets, convenient stores, supermarkets, fuel stations, restaurants, and cafés. Hotels and resorts may operate but must provide only accommodation and food services. The abovementioned businesses must adhere strictly to the task force guidelines, including limiting and rotating personnel so as to lower the chance of infection between workers.

The Prime Minister urges everyone and all organizations to collectively and strictly abide by the Order’s stipulations.

In practice, individual administrative bodies may issue their own legislation in more detail within their own scope of authority. The Lao government welcomes all public feedback in a constructive manner.

The order will take effect starting Monday, Mar 30 until April 19, or until further notice.

As of the writing of this article, Laos currently has a total of 8 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Here is the full press conference (March 29, 2:30pm):