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Factories Can Continue Operations During Lockdown

Source: Vientiane Times

Factories are permitted to continue their operations so long as they strictly comply with Covid-19 prevention and control measures, a senior government official has said.

Chairman of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Prof. Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, made the statement on Tuesday after he announced that the lockdown would be extended for another 15 days until May 20.

The virus prevention and control measures currently in force under Prime Ministerial Order No. 15 are the toughest ones imposed yet to cope with the widespread outbreak.

“If factories can strictly comply with these measures, they can continue their operations,” he said.

Prof. Dr Kikeo, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, was responding to a question by a reporter over complaints by member of the public, who demanded that factories be closed because of the crowded working conditions.

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He acknowledged that the current measures were the toughest to be imposed to date but said they did not include a curfew and that meant factories could remain open.

“We have a taskforce that monitors compliance and will order factories that fail to comply with the measures to shut down if essential,” he said.

Laos is struggling to contain an unprecedented outbreak of Covid-19 after dozens of new cases have been recorded each day since the middle of April, with the total now exceeding 1,000.

Vientiane and all 17 provinces are now under lockdown to restrict unnecessary movement.

As daily cases surge, authorities are setting up makeshift hospitals to provide sufficient treatment facilities.

Prof. Dr Kikeo said the outbreak had caused a severe impact on people’s livelihoods and businesses.

As a result, he told reporters the government is looking at new policies, in addition to those announced earlier, to help mitigate the impacts.

Among the policies being considered are those that were introduced during last year’s lockdown. They include exempting salary tax for state and private employees, exempting income tax for micro enterprises, and exempting tariffs, taxes and fees on goods imported to battle the virus outbreak. Other measures include postponing tax payments for tour and hospitality business operators and postponing compulsory payment of social welfare by businesses.

Recently, the Ministry of Energy and Mines gave the green light to a proposal by Electricite du Lao (EDL) to reduce the household electricity rate by 3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport has told state water supply enterprises in Vientiane and the provinces to consider policies such as reducing fees, postponing the payment of fees, and waiving valued added tax for household and non-household consumers for the duration of the virus outbreak.