The Lao government has announced that all international border crossings will reopen, so that Lao and foreign nationals, well as stateless people, can enter and exit the country freely.
The Prime Minister’s Office on May 7 issued a notice declaring that borders would reopen.
The reopening of Laos and the lifting of restrictions under Notice No 627 will come into effect on May 9, Head of the Secretariat of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, told a press conference on Saturday.
Citizens of countries that have signed a bilateral or unilateral visa waiver agreement with Laos can enter without applying for a visa.
Citizens of countries that have not signed visa waiver agreements with Laos can apply for a visa at Lao embassies or consulates in foreign countries. Visitors can also apply for a visa online or on arrival at border crossings where such service is available.
Lao and foreign nationals and stateless people aged 12 and older who have not been fully vaccinated are required to take a Covid-19 ATK test within 48 hours of their departure for Laos. However, they are no longer required to have a Covid test upon arrival.
People who have a certificate indicating full Covid vaccination can enter Laos without needing to have a Covid test in either their departing country or upon arrival in Laos.
Visitors who contract Covid-19 during their stay in Laos are responsible for all expenses involved if treatment is needed. Treatment can be obtained at state and private hospitals, while self-isolation and self-care is another option.
Vehicles will be allowed to enter and exit as normal, the same as before the pandemic was declared. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport will issue instructions concerning the changes in this regard.
The government has called on state departments, business operators and all sectors of society to be ready to welcome and offer warm hospitality to tourists.
In addition, the government will allow entertainment venues including karaoke clubs to reopen, on condition that staff and customers comply with standard Covid control measures.
The taskforce will monitor the situation closely and revise virus control measures as needed, Thipphakone said.
“In the case of any changes (to measures), the government will inform the public,” she said.
Deputy Minister of Health Dr Sanong Thongsana told reporters the decision to fully reopen Laos was made in light of the declining number of Covid cases, both worldwide and in Laos.
The average number of new infections reported in Laos each day has plummeted tenfold, from almost 2,000 a day in February and March this year to less than 200 a day at present.
“The rate of infection is declining daily,” Dr Sanong said.
The Omicron variant is the dominant form of Covid currently circulating in Laos, with a few cases of the Delta variant also being recorded.
As of May 7, a total of 208,715 infections had been reported, including 746 Covid-related deaths.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK