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April 8, 2020

Laos Issues COVID-19 Regulations for Freight, Insurance, Mineral Processing, Hydropower, and Healthcare Industries

Cross-Border Transportation of Goods

The National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has issued Guideline No. 020, Regarding Prime Minister’s Order No.02/PM, dated April 2, 2020, which includes directives aimed at the freight sector. The transportation of goods is one of the few operations that is still permitted to cross the Lao border, although this is subject to the following regulations:

  • The importation of goods by vehicles is authorized up to the loading point closest to the port of entry. Once the goods have been unloaded, the vehicle must depart immediately. Before entering Laos the driver must fill out a health form and undergo an examination, as recommended by the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
  • For the transportation of goods that transit through Laos before being exported to a third country, vehicles can proceed to the loading point in Laos and onward to their destination. If it is necessary to use a vehicle from the country of origin to reach the destination, the vehicle must be sprayed with a disinfectant in accordance with the specified rules. Foreign drivers are also prohibited, so the driver must be a Lao national.

Insurance Operations

On March 31, 2020, the Department of State Enterprise Investment Management and Insurance, which is under the Ministry of Finance, issued Notification No. 0338, which provides the following measures:

  • Deferment of the deadline for submission of insurance company financial reports and other reporting duties relating to the operation of insurance businesses for the year 2019. The new submission deadline is April 30, 2020.
  • Requirement for life insurance and health insurance policies that have already been sold to also cover COVID-19-related symptoms, in accordance with the amount and duration of coverage agreed upon in the contract.
  • Requirement for all insurance companies to devise a plan to form teams of employees to work in their offices from April 1 to April 19, 2020, and to support other employees to work remotely. Alternatively, companies can devise a specific schedule for each employee to come to work on an alternating basis, in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Insurance companies are also requested to ensure they can receive claims while the COVID-19 outbreak measures are in place.

Factories that Process Minerals and Hydropower Plants under Construction

On April 5, 2020, the Ministry of Mines and Energy issued Notification 0432/MEM, which orders hydropower plant construction projects and factories involved in exploration for and processing of minerals to suspend their activities from April 1 to April 19.

Until April 19, these operations are required to proceed as follows:

  • Manage their staff and personnel who are currently renting and staying in accommodation within the factory, and follow measures issued by the government. Employees and personnel should not leave the factory premises, or their accommodations, if it is not necessary (a phrase that is not yet defined). Employees and personnel must be prohibited from traveling to local places where there is a risk of contracting the virus.
  • Disseminate information about COVID-19 to employees and personnel on-site in order to prevent and combat the spread of the virus, in accordance with recommendations issued by the local authorities. Any employee who displays symptoms of the virus should be separated from the other employees, and the supervisor should immediately contact the emergency number (166 or 020-5406-6777) in order to implement the recommendations issued by the National Task Force.
  • Ensure that social distancing of two meters is strictly observed by all employees, provide masks, and ensure that soap is available for washing hands, or disinfectant is provided to kill the virus, in accordance with the recommendations of the National Task Force.
  • Disinfect the premises, including production sites, canteens, and accommodations, along with other areas where there is a risk of the virus spreading.

Facilities that have been closed and adversely impacted by COVID-19 should report the impact to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and the related authorities, as indicated in Prime Minister’s Order No. 06/PM, dated March 29, 2020. In addition, the ministry welcomes comments regarding this notification from stakeholders and from the public and private sectors.

Private Hospitals and Clinics Prohibited from Treating COVID-19

Out of a concern about some private caregiving facilities in the country being inadequately equipped to handle the epidemic, on April 2, 2020, the Ministry of Health issued Notification 0413/MOH, ordering private hospitals and treatment facilities not to attempt treatment of COVID-19 patients (with limited exceptions for international-standard private hospitals). 

This notification followed the issuance of previous measures seemingly announcing the closure of private hospitals and private treatment centers. Together, however, these regulations mean that  specialized clinics and private hospitals can provide their usual medical services, but they are not allowed to attempt treatment of COVID-19 patients; if a case of COVID-19 is suspected, they should call the emergency hotline immediately.

For more details on these measures, or on any aspect of Laos’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact Dino Santaniello at [email protected].

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