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Order of Laos Prime Minister on reinforced measures against Covid-19

Date: 29 March 2020

Vientiane Capital

Reinforcement measures on containment, prevention and full response to
the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation of COVID-19 pandemic continues to be on the rise with nearly all countries in the world affected. The number of infected people and death toll of the virus also continue to rise on a daily basis. In the Lao PDR, despite the Government has seriously taken the preventive and protective measures over the past month, which have been implemented at all levels by the party, state and society, the infected cases have eventually occurred in the country and there is a risk of the outbreak nationwide. Against this backdrop, in order to raise the level of prevention and containment aimed at a quick ending to the outbreak, as well as setting regulations for all sectors, levels and entire society to implement in an equal, effective and efficient manner.

The Prime Minister has given order to:

1. All ministries, central and local administrative authorities have to redouble their efforts to raise in-depth and broad public awareness through various means among the Lao people, aliens, stateless people and foreigners living in the Lao PDR about the danger of COVID-19, and the way to prevent, contain and respond to this virus by themselves, as well as about the needby the Government to step-up these measures on the prevention, containment and response to the outbreak of the virus in order to protect the good health and lives of the Lao people and foreigners living in the Lao PDR.

2. Allow staffs, government officers to work from home from 1 until 11 April 2020 before the Lao New Year break till 19 April 2020. But, this will not be applied to military and police personnel, fire fighter, staff on duty for the service of electricity, water supply, communication, doctor, volunteer, government staffs who are assigned on duty and those who are working to respond to and provide medical treatment for the infected people. Allow all staff and civil servants of all ministries, central and local administrative authorities across the country to carry out the official work and duties at home or their residence by means of using remote communication such as internet, telephone, email, social media applications and teleconference. Nonetheless, there shall be a regular arrangement for officers on duty at the office to ensure a smooth and effective coordination for any important matter and to ensure security for office premises.

3. All people including Government staff and official military, police, workers, pupils, students, business owners, aliens, stateless people and foreigners living in the Lao PDR must stay at their house or residence, except for activities such as purchasing food and consumer goods, going to a hospital, carrying out activities specified in paragraph 10 of this Order and carrying out his/her duties as assigned by the concerned authority. For those who have to leave their house for agricultural activities in rural areas can do so, but under effective supervision and control by the village authority to limit the number of people and area in order to prevent the risk of getting infection.

4. Individuals are not allowed to travel to other localities or infected areas or an area with risk of infection, except for individual who are authorized from the concerned local authority for necessary reasons such as transportation of goods, going to a hospital. However, road check points shall be established by health and concerned authority to strictly check the body temperature, authorized documents and collect necessary information. All passenger transport services are temporary suspended.

5. Prohibit the withholding of merchandise and raising price on goods necessary for the prevention against the outbreak of deceases and consumer goods such as face mask, hand sanitizer, medication, medical equipment, rice, food, drinking water and so on. Trade inspectors have to pay special attention on surveillance and price control as well as to coordinate with police to carry out fine and punishment on those violators.

6. Strictly prohibit the advertisement of, release, forward any fake news via any media platform that can cause misunderstanding, panic and create negative impact on the society. Task the agency for surveillance and response to the social complaints to closely monitor and strictly take action on those offenders.

7. Prohibit activities, meeting or gathering of more than 10 persons such as traditional festival, Lao New Year Festival, religious activities, weddings and parties. In the case that gathering has to be organized for more than 10 persons such as paying respect for the deceased at home, funeral, alms offerings for the deceased, the host must strictly follow the preventive measures as guided by the Task Force Committee such as practice social distancing of at least 2 meters, wear face mask and wash hand.

8. Continue to close all customary and local border checkpoints and to close all international border checkpoints for the entry and exit of individuals. For those  legally authorized vehicles for transportation of goods, they can continue to cross the border checkpoints, but they must strictly follow the steps and guidance issued by the concerned authority of the border checkpoint. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to coordinate with concerned agencies to facilitate the return to their home country of foreigners who wish to do so.

9. Continue to close entertainment venues, karaoke shops, beer bars, all kind of massage and spa service, fitness centers and sport complexes and the night market. Close all garment factories, large projects and other factories that are at risk for the outbreak, except for factories to produce consumer goods, medication, medical protective gears and equipment. However they must take strictly precautious measures as provided by the Task Force Committee. The owner of the factories that have been closed shall control their employees to stay at where they are living and provide them with necessary welfare allowance for the duration of the closure.

10. Allow some activities to continue operating such as banks, the financial institution that is not a bank, the stock exchange, securities companies, hospitals, health centers, pharmacies, recuse organizations, postal service, telecommunication, electricity, water supply, waste collectors, agricultural produce markets, convenient stores, supermarkets, fuel stations, restaurants and cafés. For hotels and resorts, it is allowed for bedding service and restaurant only. Restaurants and cafés are allowed for take away and delivery service only. The service providers that are allowed to open must strictly follow the preventive measures provided by the Task Force Committee, together with the practice of staff rotation to reduce the crowdedness.

11. The Task Force Committee shall ensure effectiveness and efficiency in carrying out its roles, rights and duties and serve as focal point for coordination with all concerned agencies in leading, monitoring and evaluating the outcome of the implementation of the prevention, protection and control measures of the outbreak, as well as the treatment provided to infected persons and preparedness in all aspects that ensure a quick, sufficient and highly effective response.

The tasks that must be accomplished during the implementation of this Order are as follows: 1). increase the number of trainings for medical personals, volunteers, military, police and concerned officials; 2). Develop plans, steps and systems to detect the suspected infection in order to do quarantine, isolation and provide treatment in case of the infection; 3). procurement of instrument, medical equipment including ventilator, medication and protective gears for the prevention of the outbreak and detection of the suspected cases; 4). improve the venues that have been identified to prepare for quarantining, isolating and treatment; 5). Budgeting for the effective and efficient implementation of the work as specified under this Order; 6). Coordination with concerned agencies within the country and abroad to mobilize necessary assistance such as experts, medical doctors, medical equipment, protective gears, test kits, medication, fund and others.

In addition, the Task Force Committee shall provide detail guidance in a format of an easy understanding to disseminate through official media outlets namely: Khaosaan Pathet Lao, National Television, National Radio, Vientiane Times Newspaper and on the website www.COVID19.gov.la, in order for the concerned agencies and local authorities to use it to further disseminate to wider communities and to instruct and mobilize the entire society to follow the information through official media outlets and be cautious when consuming information.

The Task Force Committee shall monitor, evaluate and report the situation and the implementation of the measures adopted by theGove rnment in the past and this Order, directly and regularly to the Prime Minister for a timely instruction.

12. The Vientiane Capital and Provincial administrative authorities across the country shall instruct their departments, Lao National Construction Fronts, Mass Organizations, District and Village authorities that are under their supervision to implement the measures specified in this Order, including the establishment of a unit or assigned officers to do surveillance and monitor on those returned workers from abroad on their required self-quarantine, as well as on the persons with close contact with the infected, and to patrol their village to enforce no gathering and partying that is risk for decease contagion and to ensure social safety and order; and to collaborate with concerned agencies to disseminate information on how to avoid contagion and inform the hotline contact number in case of a need for emergency assistance.

13. The Ministry of Planning and Investment in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Bank of the Lao PDR, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, business owners and other concerned agencies shall evaluate the economic impact, and study and propose mitigation policy on tax, banking credit and other necessary policies. In addition, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in collaboration with concerned agencies shall study and propose mitigation policy for labour and welfare for those affected, in accordance with its roles and duties and in line with the laws and regulations, and submit to the Government for consideration urgently.

14. The military and police personnel, Task Force Committee, agencies, local authorities and every sector of the society shall actively monitor, provide safety, security and social order and strictly implement measures specified in this Order. In case of any violation of this Order, the police and concerned authorities can take strict action in accordance with the existing laws and rules and regulations.

15. All ministries, central and local administrative authorities and every sectors of society shall strictly implement this Order in accordance with its roles and duties.

The redoubling measures for the prevention and protection against the COVID-19 pandemic will definitely generate impact on the movement, operation of business and well-being of people in all sectors of the society. It is, nonetheless, to save lives, good health of the people and national security, the Government is forced to use this Order and urge the entire society to be well aware of it and actively, jointly and strictly implement it with great sacrifice.

16. During the practical implementation, if necessary, it is authorized the Task Force Committee or the agency or the local administrative authority to issue detailed instruction in accordance with their role, mandate and jurisdiction.

17. The Government welcomes ideas and constructive recommendations from all sectors of the society for it to study and consider them with sound reasons.

18. This Order enters into force since 30 March to 19 April 2020. In case of any changes, the Government will give further notice.

Prime Minister