Laos Enters De Facto Lockdown Amid Global Coronavirus Outbreak
By Francis Savankham The Laotian Times Sun,March 22, 2020
VIENTIANE – Laos is poised to enter a de facto lockdown as borders, entry and exit points begin to close across the country, with Lao citizens prohibited from leaving.
The Government of Thailand has announced that the First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge linking the cities of Vientiane and Nong Khai will be closed to all individuals and motor vehicles, commencing 23:59 on March 22, with the exception of commercial transport vehicles. All other border checkpoints between Laos and Thailand will be closed as well.
Lao authorities have already prohibited Lao nationals from traveling outside the country for tourism or commercial reasons amid the global coronavirus outbreak.
Only individuals traveling on governmental or medical purposes will be allowed to exit the country, however, it is unclear whether this will still apply under new restrictions enforced by Thailand.
Bangkok Airways, Lao Airlines, and Thai AirAsia have all temporarily suspended flights from Laos to Thailand. Thai Airways remains the only option for flights to Thailand until de facto lockdown comes into effect. During this time, travelers entering or transiting Thailand by air must possess a safe-to-fly COVID-19 certificate from a medical doctor, as well as health insurance valid COVID-19 with coverage of US$100,000.
Scoot has also suspended flights to Singapore.
The Vietnamese Government has also suspended entry of all foreigners into Vietnam. As such, Vietnam Airlines has suspended all flights between Laos and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Government has shut down its country, putting the AirAsia flight from Vientiane to Kuala Lumpur at risk of cancelation.
Lao Airlines still maintains a flight route between Vientiane and Changsha, China, but all visitors to China must enter quarantine for 14 days and possess US$2000 on their person to cover expenses.
The restrictions on movements of travelers around the region may further escalate.
From: THE LAOTIAN TIMES, LAOS Sunday, March 22, 2020