Police Increase Checkpoints Across Vientiane Capital as Residents Violate Stay-At-Home Order

Police increase checkpoints in Vientiane Capital
Samsenthai Road is cordoned off to prevent traffic.

Police have increased checkpoints in Vientiane Capital to reduce traffic in the city after a failure among many residents to remain at home.

Major roads and intersections have been blocked off with police-staffed checkpoints across the capital after mass violations of the stay-at-home order were recorded since the lockdown began.

Videos of traffic jams and angry motorists swept social media today, with commuters forced to turn back as Vientiane police doubled-down on blockades across the city.

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Despite the stay-at-home order, many residents took to the roads yesterday afternoon to make last-minute shopping trips before a new order closing supermarkets and other retailers came into effect.

Confusion ensued this morning as residents disobeyed lockdown restrictions, making an attempt to reach their workplace or business, while delivery services were reportedly denied passage through police checkpoints.

Police checkpoints dot the city
Police checkpoints dot the city.

Many have complained that the lockdown was too sudden and that the public had not been provided adequate time to purchase provisions.

“We were not given enough warning,” one resident told the Laotian Times. “I had items left at my office that I needed to retrieve and then suddenly I heard that supermarkets would be closed so then I had to drive through checkpoints to get to the supermarket,” she said.

Authorities, however, have said that the snap lockdown was necessary for preventing widespread transmission of Covid-19 among the community after several garment factories became hotbeds for the virus.

Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Lao Minister of Health, spoke during the announcement by the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control this morning, saying that several provinces are now at level two alert, with some provinces close to reaching level three.

He said that a strict lockdown would be the only way to prevent Vientiane Capital from reaching Level Three status, wherein community transmission of Covid-19 is not restricted to any one location or population, and there is an indication that the transmission will be widespread and continuous.