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Covid-19 Measures Intensified In 15-day Extension

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has extended Covid-19 prevention and control measures for another 15 days until September 15, with some measures being strengthened.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday issued a notice to extend and reinforce the virus control measures.

Meetings, training courses and other activities including traditional and ritual events involving more than 20 people are prohibited. In essential cases, permission must be given by a Covid-19 taskforce before such events are organised.

The government also prohibits the opening of massage parlours and beauty salons, night markets, food gardens and tourist sites in areas that have experienced community outbreaks of Covid-19.

The previous day, Vientiane authorities issued a notice imposing similar measures after a rise in community-acquired infections.

The beefed-up measures were introduced after Covid-19 spread to more communities in several provinces and Vientiane.

“To date, the outbreak in the Lao PDR is categorised as level 1,” Vice Chairman of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Mrs Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, told a media briefing, referring to the highest danger level.

“There is a high risk of further community outbreaks.”

Authorities blame the current outbreak on the wave of Lao migrant workers returning from Thailand, which has recorded many thousands of cases of Covid-19.

The influx of migrants, many of whom have tested positive for the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the virus, has overwhelmed quarantine and treatment facilities in many provinces.

Reports suggest that some returnees tested positive after being releasing from quarantine centres. 

Fears of further outbreaks have forced the government to escalate virus control measures.

In its latest notice, the government has reaffirmed the measures issued by Vientiane authorities which prohibit travel on roads across the capital from 10pm to 5am. Exceptions will be made for essential trips such as the transport of goods, food and medical equipment, ambulances, fire-fighting trucks, and emergency rescue vehicles.

Other prohibitions include:
– Karaoke bars and other entertainment venues, tourist sites, night markets, food gardens, liquor outlets including grill shops where alcoholic beverages are sold, theatres, snooker clubs, massage and spa services, beauty salons, internet cafés and gaming shops must close.
– Travel to and from red zones is not allowed, except when permitted by the relevant taskforce.
– All indoor and outdoor sports including competitions in areas where community outbreaks have been reported are prohibited.
– Any kind of party or gathering in any location is prohibited.
– Rises in product prices and the stockpiling of goods are not allowed.
– Postponement of new academic year, with entrance exams to tertiary education institutions suspended in areas with community outbreaks.
– Continuing closure of entertainment venues including karaoke bars and theatres, along with spas, internet cafés, snooker clubs and gaming shops.
– Continuing suspension of visas for foreign visitors. Diplomats, staff of international organisations, experts and foreign investors wishing to work in Laos can apply for permission from the Covid-19 taskforce.
– All border crossings will remain closed to the general public.

However, the government is allowing some businesses to remain open, such as wholesale and retail shops, supermarkets, minimarts, and fresh markets.

Barber shops and beauty salons outside of red zones may open if service providers are fully vaccinated.  
Restaurants and coffee shops in communities without a virus outbreak may continue to open.
Factories may continue to operate if employees are fully vaccinated and do not live in a red zone.