Laos: Ministry orders temporary closure of entertainment venues from April 14-30

This photograph taken on April 15, 2019 shows Miss Laos New Year or "Nang Sang Khan" pageant winner Mila Douangximay (C) along with the other six chosen contestants, each symbolising King Kabinlaphom's seven daughters, taking part in the annual Laos New Year or "Pi Mai" celebrations at the Wat Xiengthong Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang. The Laos government has cancelled such festivities this year and temporarily closed all entertainment outlets from Apr 14-30 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. - AFP

Vientiane, April 13 (Vientiane Times/ANN): The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism on Tuesday ordered the closure of entertainment venues such as karaoke clubs, bars and nightclubs and banned weddings and other large events from April 14-30 in a bid to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak after three more people tested positive for the virus.

The move follows the rise in the number of cases in the region and around the world.

All large gatherings are banned but small wedding ceremonies limited to family members may go ahead.

The ministry has assigned the Department of Information, Culture and Tourism in cooperation with security teams and taskforces for Covid-19 prevention and control in Vientiane and the provinces to monitor the activities of entertainment venues and ensure curbs on weddings and other events.

Violators will be warned if they flout the order. If they break the rule a second time, they will have their business operation licence revoked. They may also be ordered to close their business and pay a fine.

This is the first time this year that the ministry has ordered the closure of entertainment venues and prohibited weddings and other large gatherings.

The order came after three more people tested positive for Covid-19 (the 50th, 51st and 52nd cases). Two of these cases were announced on Sunday and the third on Monday, bringing the total to 52.

The 51st and 52nd cases were imported, a situation which officials said was easier to contain, unlike the 50th case which involved a person who illegally crossed the border into Laos.

The 50th case was a Thai businessman who has been living in Vientiane for a year but had close contact with another person who illegally crossed the border into Laos from Thailand, where a new outbreak of Covid-19 is spreading. The businessman continued life as normal before he felt unwell and tested positive for Covid-19 a week later, triggering concerns over the possible spread of the virus.

Authorities are attempting to trace everyone who had close contact with the man.

Fears of a new outbreak are intensifying as everyone organises parties to celebrate Lao New Year. - Vientiane Times/ANN
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