Cambodians have become less worried about their health risk since all 122 Covid-19 patients had recovered and the Kingdom has not seen any new case in over a month.
Everyone is back to work, conducting business as usual and flocking to the many scenic spots and beaches with little concern for a second wave of infections despite numerous warnings from health authorities.
Meanwhile, many restaurants and resorts that closed a few months ago when Cambodia saw a dramatic surge of Covid-19 have also begun to gradually open for business, with crowds growing larger by the day. It is quite apparent that the “old normal” prevails.
Just reopened last weekend is Phumsla Eco Resort located in Siem Reap. It has started receiving patrons who enjoy sightseeing, food and taking selfies in the outskirts of this ancient city.
“We are having locals gradually visiting our resort after it closed for almost two months,” says Taing Chay Heng, its founder.
He says his staff always wear face masks when serving food and beverage for customers who place their orders from one of the many kiosks that are located on the open space at the resort.
“I am sure that physical distancing is practised since each kiosk is located at a reasonable distance from one another. We also pay attention to our products that are served from our main kitchen,” says Heng.
Alcohol for disinfection is a new normal. And it is seen everywhere from convenience stores, restaurants, banks, coffee shops to supermarkets, resorts and even currency exchange booths, though not all these places have a temperature device.
Having such sanitisers are part of the Ministry of Health guidelines that were issued for all business owners to adapt as a new lifestyle to prevent a second wave of novel coronavirus infections in the Kingdom.
Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine says to prevent and stem the second wave infections, it has called on all people numerous times to follow the ministry’s guideline.
“We consistently advise and remind the public that they have little choice but to adjust their habits and behaviour to a health and hygiene conscious lifestyle,” says Vandine.
She says the public has to consistently practice a high level of physical hygiene, especially washing hands often, wearing face masks when out and about. And always remember to use a krama (scarf) or tissue paper to cover the mouth and nose if you feel like coughing or sneezing. And above all, wrap the tissue and throw it into the rubbish bin.
Physical distancing is a must, Vandine says, as this reduces the risk of the coronavirus being passed from one person to another.
Swapnil Deshmukh, the founder of Socials Coffee where people are served a wide range of beverage by mostly deaf employees, have done three things to help prevent his employees and customers from contracting the virus.
“We have monthly online meetings using the Zoom app to avoid unnecessary staff movement and travel. We are incentivising and encouraging people to go cashless and pay through digital apps, contactless cards and digital coupons instead of cash.
“And we have strengthened our delivery offerings through our partnership with Nham24 and incentivising customers with some discount programmes,” says Deshmukh.
He also requires all his employees to have a temperature check, wear face masks, use hand sanitisers and wash hands with soap and water regularly and avoid all non-essential travel.
Vandine says that social and physical distancing is seen as highly efficient to cut down the maximum risk. She encourages all Cambodian people to adapt to this measure.
The Ministry of Health calls for local authorities to take part in facilitating and inspecting the practice at their authorised places.
Vandine says if restaurants and resorts decide to open, they have to prepare and ensure their places do not become breeding places for Covid-19.
Restaurant employees, she says, have to wear face masks to curb the virus spread to their customers and keep the area clean all the time.
Ly Moniroth brought his wife and two sons in a sports utility vehicle to visit Kampot and Kep provinces last weekend.
“We spent time at Kep beach and Rabbit Island, watched the sunset at Led Zep Cafe and Daung Te Resort for three days,” says Moniroth, who found crowded people in both resorts.
On the growing crowds, Vandine says: “Don’t be confused and believe that Covid-19 has gone from our country even though all the patients have recovered.
“Even so, the Kingdom is still at risk of Covid-19. We are in an ‘alarming stage’ because around the globe and regional countries, especially neighbouring ones, there are new infections every so often.
“The risk of infection is always there. So we have to practise a very high personal hygiene and not let our guard down.
“I appeal repeatedly . . . please do not be complacent and forget about Covid-19 because it will not forgive us and return with a vengeance if we are not careful.”