Laos drops Covid entry curbs for tourists Monday

Laos drops Covid entry curbs for tourists Monday

Laos will drop Covid-19 entry restrictions for fully vaccinated tourists from today after the country reported falling coronavirus cases and deaths, senior officials said.

The small Southeast Asian nation saw an 80% downturn in international traveller numbers in 2020 after 4.7 million foreign tourists visited the previous year.

From January, travellers had been required to complete seven days of quarantine, present a negative Covid-19 test, and were limited to travelling within certain areas with officially sanctioned tour groups.

Deputy Minister and Deputy Head of the Lao Prime Minister's Office Thipphakone Chanthavongsa said a task force's recommendations to ease measures for entering Laos had been approved. "The government sees it is time to develop the economy," she said.

The relaxed measures will see international checkpoints re-opened for Lao citizens and foreigners, provided they are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated visitors must produce a Rapid Antigen Test issued within 48 hours of leaving their origin country.

Tourists will also have to pay for their own medical treatment should they become Covid-19 positive. Laos officials added that pubs and karaoke bars could reopen. The country has reported 663,533 coronavirus cases and 16,509 deaths.

Wirun Sitthiwong, Chiang Khong district chief in Chiang Rai, said the district would be ready to reopen its border checkpoint at the 4th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge connecting with Huay Xai district in Laos on June 1.

He said people entering Chiang Khong from Laos will undergo antigen testing as a precaution against the spread of the virus across the border, with two local hotels to serve as quarantine facilities and local hospitals ready to provide medical treatment.

He said the district will ask the provincial governor and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for permission to reopen its border checkpoint from June 1.

Khathasit Nuengla, chief of Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai which also borders Laos, said the border checkpoint at Ban Sop Ruak opposite Laos' Ton Pheung district is also ready to reopen to tourists on June 1.

Pol Col Somkiat Sonjai, chief of the Nakhon Phanom immigration office, said the border checkpoint on the 3rd Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge would reopen on Monday, and staff were ready for the change.

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