The Prime Minister’s Office has issued a notice regarding the easing and continuation of certain lockdown measures in Laos.
The notice, effective from 4-17 May, outlines a gradual loosening of lockdown measures, with certain strict measures to remain in place.
Businesses and Work
Government offices and private sector businesses will be permitted to open normally. However, both public and private employees must come to work on a rotational basis. Workplaces must put in place strict disease prevention measures.
Restaurants, convenience stores, barbershops, beauty salons, wet markets, shopping malls, wholesale and retail shops, supermarkets, coffee shops, car care centers, water factories, and ice factories may proceed to operate normally but must all enact strict preventative health measures.
Meanwhile, large-scale manufacturing plants and investment projects that have a large number of employees must abide by strict disease preventative measures advised by the National Taskforce.
Training sessions and meetings are permitted to be organized with limited numbers of participants, and participants must stay at least one meter apart from each other. Facilities for handwashing such as soap and water, or hand gel must be provided, and all participants are to wear face masks and undergo temperature screening.
Meetings or training sessions should be sanitized according to guidelines set by the National Taskforce.
The notice states that Lao nationals who are employed outside of Laos may now return to their place of work abroad, provided that the host country permits it, while foreign nationals who are employed in Laos may return home.
Closed Until Further Notice
According to the notice, The following businesses will not be permitted to reopen at this time: entertainment venues, beer gardens, bars, cinemas, karaoke venues, spa and massage parlors, casinos, night markets, indoor fitness gyms, outdoor team sports venues (for soccer, basketball, volleyball, boxing, cockfighting, petanque, marathon, and other sports that draw more than ten participants and players that cannot maintain a physical distance of one meter from each other).
Community Events and Domestic Travel
Members of the public may now, based on their needs, leave their homes but must remain within their home province. Residents are urged to continue to adhere to preventative measures specified by the National Taskforce.
Members of the public may engage in physical exercise and other fitness activities (e.g. jogging, running, biking, aerobics, golf) in outdoor spaces but must refrain from group sports activities.
Members of the public are prohibited from organizing recreational gatherings of more than ten persons or any number of people where they cannot maintain a physical distance of at least one meter.
Schools and Education Institutions
Starting 18 May, the following educational institutions may re-open: Primary 5, Secondary 4, and Secondary 7 grade levels at all public and private schools, as well as military and police academies.
Students and teachers must stay at least one meter apart from each other, be provided facilities to sanitize their hands with water and soap or hand gel, wear face masks, and undergo temperature screening. School premises must be sanitized according to guidelines set by the National Taskforce. Colleges, universities, and other grade levels must continue to be closed until further notice.
Foreign nationals who are enrolled in academic institutions in Laos may now return to Laos for study, while Lao nationals who are studying outside of Laos may return to their academic institutions abroad, in accordance with the regulations of the host country.
Provincial and International Borders and Checkpoints
The notice states that inter-provincial travel remains prohibited with the exception of essential and emergency circumstances such as that necessitated by government officers, business owners, students, sick patients, deceased individuals, and commercial goods transportation. The proper documentation must be provided upon request.
Traditional, provincial, and international borders shall remain closed. Only individuals permitted by the National Taskforce and commercial transport vehicles will be allowed to cross these borders, according to the notice.
The issuing of visas to individuals entering Laos from coronavirus outbreak countries will continue to be suspended with the exception of expert and technical visas, and other foreign labor visas that are crucial for major projects. These individuals must undergo testing for Covid-19 and will be placed in isolation for 14 days at a state-designated quarantine center. The National Taskforce will issue more specific and detailed legislation on this issue.
Return to Stricter Lockdown Measures
The notice states that the easing of restrictions remains temporary. If an infected case is confirmed in a particular province, then stricter measures will be enacted in that province. The provincial taskforce will announce all confirmed cases and measures. If a cluster of cases is found in two bordering provinces, then the country may revert to stricter lockdown measures stipulated under Prime Ministerial Order No. 6/PM.
Below is the full press conference (in Lao language) headed by the Head of the National Taskforce, Deputy Prime Minister Somdy Douangdy.