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Authorities Reverse Decision On Shop Closures

Source: Vientiane Times

Vientiane authorities have revised their decision on the closure of retail and wholesale outlets and will now allow shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets and minimarts to remain open.

The new instruction was issued on Tuesday, just one day after authorities ordered the closure of convenience stores and retail outlets across the capital.

The change of heart came after the city’s Department of Industry and Commerce bowed to public pressure in the face of a barrage of complaints.

The new notice was signed by the department’s Director Ms Vanmany Phimmasane and replaces the instruction issued on Monday.

“From September 21 to 30, import-export businesses, department stores, supermarket, minimarts, fresh markets, wholesale/retail stores and petrol stations in the capital can operate as normal to provide goods and services to customers,” the notice stated.

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Convenience stores and retail outlets are permitted to sell goods, dried food, processed food, medicine, medical equipment, household items and agricultural products, but must comply with all the Covid control measures. This means customers and staff must wear a face mask, use hand sanitiser and have temperature checks.

In addition, social distancing must be observed so shop staff should not allow large groups of people to enter a store at one time.

The new notice spells out opening times as follows:
–  Fresh markets may open from 6am to 7pm.
– Department stores, supermarkets, minimarts and wholesale/retail stores can open from 9am to 8pm.

Fresh markets are allowed to sell only agricultural produce, goods and local food.

Shops that sell items not considered to be absolutely essential have been instructed to close until September 30. This includes stores at night markets and shopping centres that sell clothing, construction materials, housewares, cosmetics, electrical appliances and other non-essential goods.

Petrol stations will remain open as normal but staff must comply with the government’s guidelines to contain the spread of Covid.

Traders are not permitted to raise prices unreasonably nor to stockpile goods for personal gain. In addition, shoppers may not buy goods in large quantities with the intention of hoarding as this will lead to panic buying.

Vendors are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages and anyone selling goods on the streets must get permission from local authorities.

Businesses that violate the Covid control rules, including failure to check people’s temperature, provide handwashing facilities on entry and advise customers to wear a face mask, will be fined 10 million kip for a first infringement. Repeat violations will result in the business licence being revoked and terminated.

Individuals who break the rules, especially with regard to social distancing at shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets, minimarts, fresh markets and wholesale/retail stores will be fined up to 3 million kip per offence.