The Ministry of Commerce on April 21 launched an online marketplace with virtual booths to sell essential groceries to people during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takhmao town in Kandal province.

In an April 21 press release, the ministry invited the public to visit the platform at and listed five telephone numbers to reach for assistance in marketing or ordering.

“After we get the order, the team will arrange for delivery to doorsteps,” the ministry said.

The announcement came a day after secretary of state Seang Thay led a ZOOM meeting with representatives of seven supermarkets – Aeon Mall, Makro, Lucky, Bayon, Supper Store, Chip Mong and Bio Mart.

Thay asked the owners of the supermarkets to work with the ministry and upload their goods to the website, as well as deliver orders to those in areas designated as “Red Zones” and other restricted locations.

This, he said, would prevent the risk of spreading Covid-19 and lend a hand in stabilising prices in the food market in the meantime.

"We would like to thank and express appreciation to all the supermarket owners who’ve been pitching in and keeping prices stable, despite these difficult times," Thay said.

The ministry will also showcase the platform’s products on its Facebook page to make it easier for people in Red Zones to place orders, he said.

The representatives asked the ministry to make it easier for staff to travel in and out of restricted areas, and to move products into the capital from the provinces and abroad to meet local demand, according to the ministry.

Mak Chamroeun, co-founder of local business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce platform Smile Shop, welcomed the ministry’s move, noting the rising demand for the goods in Red Zones.

He told The Post on April 21: "We request the Ministry of Commerce to issue new guidelines on how delivery teams and mobile markets are to reach the people during this time.

“We need to maintain hygiene principles to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which is something we need to work on together," he said, adding that Smile Shop has been actively assisting the government in delivering goods to meet the needs of the people during the lockdown.

"I am also ready to cooperate with the farmers who grow vegetables, fish and meat near Phnom Penh and punctually bring their products to all blocked-off areas. We’ve joined hands with the government to keep prices as low as possible for everyone," he said.

The ministry has dispatched five trucks to Red Zones and set up a number of booths there to distribute essential goods to the people in the areas at below-market prices, including milled rice, noodles, pure drinking water, canned fish, fish sauce and soy sauce.

The technical support team for the ministry’s new platform can be reached at 012-767-043, 089-355-696, 069-524-499, 015-805-313 and 017-855-011.