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Easing of Lockdown Restrictions Proposed

Source: Vientiane Times

Six restrictions under the current lockdown could be eased after May 3 if there are no more confirmed case of coronavirus by that date, authorities have suggested.

May 3 will see the end of the extended lockdown under Prime Minister’s Order No. 06. There were no new confirmed cases of Covid-19 for 15 consecutive days as of yesterday, which is the basis for the possible easing of restrictions.

The National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control met on April 27 to discuss the lifting of restrictions.

In its draft report, the committee suggested six changes as follows:

– Allow organisations and offices to open so that civil servants can work in offices as normal. However, organisations with sufficient technology to allow staff to work at home online may continue to do so as appropriate;

– Permit people to go out and travel within their province when necessary;

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– Allow training sessions, meetings, and religious ceremonies that are not attended by more than 50 people, with the organisers to apply Covid-19 prevention measures;

– Allow outdoor exercise or sports with participants not to exceed 50 people and precautionary health measures to be applied;

– Permit factories and major development projects that apply and meet infection prevention criteria to resume operation;

– Allow kindergarten, primary and secondary schools to reopen.

However, even if restrictions are eased, all parties involved must apply strict infection prevention measures such as requiring people to stay at least one metre apart, frequently wash their hands, wear face masks, and to check their temperature regularly.

The outbreak situation in neighbouring countries was also assessed and taken into account to justify the possible easing of restrictions, the meeting heard.

The draft report can be revised in line with recommendations made by meeting participants.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Somdy Duangdy, who is also Chairman of the taskforce committee.

A final draft of the report will be submitted to the government for consideration.

The report recommends the continuation of five main restrictions after May 3. These are the ban on interprovincial travel for non-essential trips; the closure of local and international borders for non-essential travel; and the closure of entertainment venues, karaoke bars, spas and massage parlours, night markets, and indoor sports facilities.

Also recommended are a continuing ban on entry visas for citizens of countries where Covid-19 is present, as well as gatherings of large numbers of people.

The draft report suggests that most of the restrictions under the Prime Minister’s Order are lifted if Laos continues to record no new confirmed cases of Covid-19 by May 31 coupled with a decrease in infections in neighbouring countries.

However, infection prevention measures will remain in place such as social distancing of at least one metre, hand washing, wearing of face masks, and checking body temperature.