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Laos Extends Lockdown Measures Until 19 July

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has decided to extend a Prime Minister’s Order designed to control the Covid-19 outbreak for another 15 days, amid growing concerns over the surge in infections in neighbouring countries.

Speaking at a media conference in Vientiane on Sunday, Deputy Head of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Ms Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, said the new virus outbreak in neighbouring countries had persuaded the government keep the Prime Minister’s Order in place.

In particular, the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, which is transmitted more quickly than other strains, has convinced the government to keep control measures in place so that officials can make a timely response in the event of further outbreaks in Laos, she added.

“Faced with this situation, our country is still at risk. This is due to the fact that there are continuing outbreaks of Covid in neighbouring countries. The closure of businesses in those countries will mean that Lao nationals working there will return home,” she said, citing one of the reasons for the extension of the order.

Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh enacted the order to control the Covid outbreak on April 21, authorising central and local authorities to restrict the movement of people and curtail business operations as part of efforts to control the spread of the virus.

While restrictions have been in place, the number of Covid cases has declined and some of the larger provinces have recorded only imported cases of the virus.

According to Ms Thiphakone, some control measures will remain in place in provinces with localised outbreaks. These include the continued closure of entertainment venues, especially karaoke bars and movie theatres, and a ban on sports such as football and boxing.

Under revised control measures, factories in red zones will remain closed except for those whose staff have all been vaccinated and can provide shelters for their workers on factory premises.

People are also banned from entering and leaving red zones unless they have permission from local authorities to do essential work.

As part of Covid control measures, the government will continue to ban parties and social gatherings and strongly encourages people to have temperature checks, wear a face mask and wash their hands regularly.

To ease the impact of restrictions, the government has decided to lift some, allowing the resumption of business at wholesale and retail outlets. Night markets, barber shops and beauty salons outside of red zones can reopen, as can tourist sites, restaurants and coffee shops, while outdoor exercise is also allowed.

Meetings and workshops can be held in areas outside of red zones, while fishing from boats in river border areas is allowed between the hours of 6am and 6pm.

Land, water and air transport is now allowed between provinces where there is no virus outbreak. However, people wishing to travel to provinces where infections have been recorded must have had two doses of a Covid vaccine.

State agencies and enterprises can allow their staff to work in their offices, but they must check their temperature regularly, wear a face mask, and use hand sanitiser.