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Offices, businesses back to work as govt eases restrictions

The government is permitting Party and state offices and private businesses to resume operations on Monday (May 4) as normal while continuing to strictly observe coronavirus prevention measures.
The Prime Minister’s Office on Friday issued an announcement easing some lockdown measures imposed under Prime Minister’s Order No. 6, which have been in place since April 1.
Offices and businesses could assign their staff to work on a rotation basis, while those that wish their staff to continue to work from home can do so.
The announcement lifted the stay-at-home order, meaning people including foreign expatriates in Laos can now go out and travel within Vientiane or their home province.

The holding of meetings and training sessions may go ahead with an appropriately limited number of participants.
The government is also permitting wholesale and retail shops, restaurants, food shops, barbers and beauty salons, fresh markets, supermarkets, and ice and drinking water factories to reopen for business.
Larger factories and development projects that meet coronavirus (Covid-19) prevention standards may also resume operations.
The taskforce committees – one in charge of virus prevention and control, and another in charge of dealing with the economic impacts – have been entrusted to inspect and certify businesses and projects that meet the operation resumption criteria.
Projects and businesses managed by provincial authorities will be certified by provincial taskforce committees. 
Speaking at the briefing on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy Duangdy, who is Chairman of the National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, said the easing of restrictions was aimed at minimising the impact on social and economic development and people’s livelihoods.
The encouraging fact that there have been no new confirmed cases of infection for 19 consecutive days since April 12, combined with other forms of progress, was justification for the relaxation of virus prevention measures.
Outdoor exercise and sports involving individuals, such as walking, jogging, golfing, and cycling, may now take place, but not team sports.
The Ministry of Education and Sports was told to restart classes on May 18 for Year 5 of primary schools (final year), Year 4 of lower secondary schools (final year) and Year 3 of upper secondary schools (final year, also known as Year 7 of secondary school).
The Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of National Defence were also instructed to reopen schools under their management on the same date.
Although the restrictions have been eased, all parties involved are required to apply strict infection prevention measures. These include maintaining a distance of at least one metre from other people, frequently washing hands with alcohol-based hand gel, wearing a face mask, and regularly checking body temperature.
Foreign nationals working in Laos and foreign students studying in Laos may now return home when they wish.
Lao nationals wanting to go to another country for study or work purposes can do so in accordance with the regulations of the country of destination.
However, the government has extended five restriction measures imposed under the Prime Minister’s Order until May 17, as follows:
-   Ban on interprovincial travel for non-essential trips, while permitted essential trips require a certificate from the authorities concerned;
-      Closure of entertainment venues, facilities selling alcohol, cinemas, karaoke bars, spas and massage parlours, night markets, casinos, indoor sports facilities, and outdoor team sports;
- Ban on gatherings or parties involving more than 10 participants who cannot remain one metre apart;
- Closure of all local and international borders for non-essential travel;
- Suspension of all types of entry visa for citizens of countries where Covid-19 is present, except visas for experts, technical staff and workers who are essential to the work of development projects and companies in Laos. However, foreign incomers are required to undergo a test for Covid-19 as well as a 14-day quarantine period at a special government quarantine centre.
Mr Somdy stressed the need for people from all walks of life to continue to exercise vigilance to ensure Laos does not face a second wave of the coronavirus.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update May 4, 2020)

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