May 5, 2020
Laos Begins Relaxing Some Lockdown Measures as Planned

Shortly after the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown measures in Laos on May 1, 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office provided additional details on the post-lockdown period and the relaxation of certain measures in Notification No. 524/PMO.  

From May 4 to May 17, the government will lift some restrictions, implement extra prevention measures where necessary, and leave some prohibitions in place, in order to assess the prevention measures and determine how to proceed. Accordingly, the relaxation of the measures may only be on a temporary basis.

If additional COVID-19 cases are reported in one province, that province will return to a lockdown and will be placed under the authority of the provincial taskforce. If infections are reported in two or more provinces, Laos will return to a full national lockdown, and the country’s original lockdown order will be reinstated.

Relaxation of Measures

People residing in Laos are now authorized to leave their homes and travel within their provinces. Though working remotely is still recommended, businesses and organizations in both the public and private sectors are allowed to resume normal operations on a staff rotation basis, provided they observe prevention measures, such as social distancing of one meter, hand washing, use of alcohol gel, mask wearing, body temperature checks, and proper cleaning of the working premises. Public training events and meetings that observe these prevention measures are likewise authorized.

Large private factories and investment projects must operate according to the conditions and measures issued on April 21 under Guideline No. 31.

Most schools will reopen—again while observing the prescribed prevention measures—on May 18. However, universities and some other educational institutions will remain closed until further notice.

Measures that Remain in Effect

Interprovincial travel remains generally banned, but exceptions are now available, subject to prior authorization, for official business trips, study, necessary trips by business operators, medical purposes, travel in connection with a deceased person, and for transportation of goods.

The following establishments and activities remain banned:

  • Entertainment services, bars and beer shops, cinemas, karaoke, massage parlors and spas, casinos, night markets, fitness centers, indoor sports complexes;
  • Sports and sporting competitions that attract crowds and participants of more than 10 people (examples given include football, basketball, marathons, boxing, cockfighting, and petanque, but the ban is interpreted broadly);
  • Events with large crowds, celebrations and parties, and any gatherings of more than 10 people.

All domestic and international borders remain closed to the public, except for individuals who have been granted written permission by the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, and for the transportation of goods. Foreign nationals working or studying in Laos will be granted authorization to return home as originally planned, and Lao students and workers who need to go abroad for study or work can do so as long as authorization is granted by the destination country.

Lao authorities will continue to suspend the issuance of all categories of visas for individuals traveling from countries that are still experiencing the spread of COVID-19 infections. Exceptions can be provided for mandated experts, public officials, and foreign workers entering the country to work on important and necessary projects. However, they must undergo proper testing and be quarantined for 14 days at designated centers, in accordance with requirements stipulated under relevant government regulations (i.e., Notice No. 507/PMO dated April 24, 2020).

Some of the items described above may require further definition or explanation by the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control—the body responsible for issuing recommendations and additional details for proper implementation of these measures. That is expected in due course.

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Dino Santaniello
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