Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Laos continues to ease restrictions nationwide as of June 1 due to reduced COVID-19 activity. Most international travel remains banned.

This alert affects Laos

This alert began 01 Jun 2020 07:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International travel ban, quarantine measures, business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Laos continue to relax restrictions as of June 1 amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Construction projects, factories, and cinemas can resume operations with distancing measures in place. Night markets can reopen, while restaurants can restart operations with official approval. Sporting events can resume without spectators.

Several types of businesses, including food establishments, supermarkets, shopping malls, can continue to operate. Entertainment venues, including bars and casinos, remain closed. Authorities have prohibited non-essential mass gatherings and are limiting essential events like weddings to 50 people with safeguards in place. The government also advises people to continue practicing precautions, such as frequently sanitizing their hands and checking temperatures. Officials have warned that they could reimpose more stringent restrictions in specific provinces if there are new COVID-19 cases in the locations. Reintroduction of stricter measures nationwide is also possible if there are cases in multiple provinces.

Travel Restrictions

While most international travel remains banned, exceptions are in place for resident diplomats and essential workers, among others. Issuance of tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and visa exemptions remain suspended indefinitely. People wishing to enter Laos must test negative for COVID-19 at a medical institution in the country where they come from within 72 hours before the trip. Officials will require symptomatic arrivals to undergo tests and quarantine at selected hospitals. Other incoming passengers are required to isolate for two weeks at government-designated facilities; authorities may allow diplomats, employees of international organizations, and their family members to self-quarantine at their residence.

The government is allowing foreigners already in the country to depart. While international travel and border restrictions remain largely in effect, exceptions are in place for cargo transport.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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