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Travel Restrictions Lifted As More Lockdown Measures Eased

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has lifted travel restrictions to enable people to travel freely around the country as Laos eases more Covid-19 prevention measures to minimise the impact on livelihoods and the economy.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Friday issued the latest announcement on the easing of lockdown measures the second such relaxation of the rules since the lockdown was introduced on April 1.

Restrictions are gradually being eased after no new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded for more than a month. As of Sunday there had been no new cases for 35 consecutive days. The total number of cases recorded remains at 19, including 14 people who have been discharged from hospital. Under the latest announcement, all forms of interprovincial public transport by land, water and air may resume operation.

Party and state offices and businesses may also resume operations as normal. However, in situations where staff can work from home they may continue to do so.

Official training courses, meetings and seminars may take place, but celebratory parties are prohibited.

Ministries were told to reopen final-year classes at primary, lower and upper secondary schools on Monday (May 18). Other classes at all educational institutions may reopen on June 2.

All indoor and outdoor sporting activities are permitted. Trading and service businesses may resume operations. These include restaurants, shops selling cooked food, retail and wholesale outlets, barber shops, beauty salons, fresh markets, supermarkets, massage and spa service providers, and car washing services.

Development projects, companies and factories are also permitted to resume operations.

Foreign expatriates working or studying in Laos are now permitted to return home if they wish.

Lao students and workers wanting to return to foreign countries for study or work can also do so in accordance with the regulations imposed by their country of destination.

Alongside the lifting of control measures, the government is warning everyone to continue to strictly observe virus prevention measures. These include social distancing of at least 1 metre, washing hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rub, wearing face masks, checking everyone’s temperature, and regular cleaning of premises.

This latest stage in the easing of virus control measures is in effect from May 18–June 1. A decision as to whether to relax more rules or re-impose restrictions will be made at a later date depending on the circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak.

The government has warned that risks and challenges lie ahead and that Laos could face a second wave of the virus given the increasing number of cases occurring in many other countries.

“We should not be careless,” the announcement warned. The government will continue to enforce certain measures under Prime Minister’s Order No. 06 until June 1, as follows:

  • Closure of entertainment venues, cinemas, karaoke bars, night markets, casinos, gaming shops, and sports competitions involving a large number of people who cannot remain one metre apart;
  • Prohibition of unofficial gatherings, parties, celebrations, traditional events, and weddings whose participants exceed 50 people and cannot remain one metre apart;
  • Closure of all local and international border crossings to the general public;
  • Suspension of all types of entry visa for citizens travelling from or transitting via Covid-19 outbreak countries, except visas for diplomats, experts, technical staff and workers who are considered essential.

    Foreigners entering Laos are required to comply with Lao Covid-19 prevention measures about which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue instructions at a later date.