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Lao Govt Relaxes COVID-19 Prevention Measures

Source: Vientiane Times

Sports competitions, casinos, and some social gatherings will be allowed to resume under the government’s decision to relax the COVID-19 prevention measures, according to a new government notice.

Minister of Health Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, on behalf of the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, gave details of the new notice issued by the Prime Minister’s Office at a press conference held in Vientiane on Tuesday.

Under the notice, which will be in effect from July 1 to 31, sports competitions are no longer banned but the organisers must make sure that venues are not too crowded.

In addition, organisers must comply with the guidelines issued by the National Taskforce Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, including social distancing.

Event organisers must also arrange hand sanitising points and check the temperature of attendees, who are required to wear a face mask, according to the notice, which was endorsed on June 30.

Casinos may resume operation and social gatherings including parties, traditional festivals and weddings can now also take place, but hosts must strictly follow the guidelines laid down by the COVID-19 prevention and control committee.

To ensure that the government is able to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus, authorities have decided keep entertainment venues such as karaoke bars, as well as gaming shops closed.

The government has also decided to keep customary border crossings closed until further notice. However, the transport of goods at some of these crossings will be allowed where agreed by the government. 

With regard to international border crossings, only Lao citizens and foreigners who have good reason to enter or exit Laos will be allowed to pass through immigration. The transport of freight across international borders will continue as normal.

The government will also continue to suspend tourist and visitor visas for people coming from or transitting countries where COVID-19 is still present.

The government will only grant visas to diplomats, staff of international organisations, businesspeople, experts, and foreign labourers who need to enter Laos. These visas must be approved by the COVID-19 prevention and control committee.

According to the notice from the Prime Minister’s Office, the relaxation of COVID-19 prevention measures is temporary and if any new cases are detected in any province the government will reimpose strict measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The government has seen initial success in curbing COVID-19 in recent months and the total number of reported cases remains at 19. All of those who contracted the virus have recovered and been discharged from hospital.