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Curfew returns to capital as eight provinces locked down

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Restaurants along a street in eastern Tonle Bassac commune near the capital’s Koh Pich, or ‘Diamond Island’, on Thursday. Food and beverage establishments are allowed to offer only takeaway and delivery services during this time, as per the municipal hall’s orders. Hong Menea

Curfew returns to capital as eight provinces locked down

The government has decided to lock down eight provinces bordering Thailand for two weeks in a bid to prevent the coronavirus Delta variant from spreading further while also imposing a nationwide curfew from 9 pm to 3am for 14 days.

In a directive dated July 28, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces would be locked down from July 29 through August 12.

“This lockdown aims to contain the spread of the Delta variant in our communities. The geographic locations on lockdown may be designated in whole or part as red, orange and yellow zones depending on the levels of contagion present in each location as determined by each provincial administration,” the directive states.

“Because most of the provinces on lockdown border Thailand and to ensure the efficiency of controlling and containing the spread of this Delta variant, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will urgently contact Thailand to temporarily close borders to all passengers. The transport of goods will be allowed and some special cases permitted by the relevant authorities,” Hun Sen stated.

The foreign ministry and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training have been tasked with disseminating information on the lockdown measures in the provinces bordering Thailand and coordinating with Thai authorities to ensure the protection and wellbeing of Cambodian migrant workers there who intend to come home but must now postpone their return until the lockdown is lifted.

“The sub-commission to track and identify Covid-infected individuals must pay urgent attention to the provinces involved and take action in searching for those who have been in close or indirect contact with an infected person to ensure that the chains of transmission for this virus are broken in a timely manner,” Hun Sen added.

Aviation sector-related operations in the locked down areas are allowed to take place as normal with no further restrictions placed on air travel.

The government also issued a circular detailing its campaign to strengthen Covid-19 preventive measures in the capital and provinces to contain the Delta variant.

In the circular dated July 28, Hun Sen said although Cambodia has not yet reached large-scale community transmission of Delta, transmission of the virus had yet to subside and continued to rise at an alarming rate.

“The government has decided to pursue a campaign to strengthen Covid-19 preventive measures across the county for 14 days starting from [11:59pm on July 29] to August 12, 2021. The measures are necessary and enforcement is urgent,” Hun Sen said.

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A police officer at a former red zone in Stung Meanchey commune of the capital’s Meanchey district in May. Heng Chivoan

The circular added that during this period the capital and provincial governors have to take all necessary measures to ban any activities, occupations or locations such as bars and nightclubs or anywhere people are gathering to drink alcohol. Restaurants and canteens can still sell food for takeaway and delivery.

“During this campaign, the government will allow the capital and provincial governors to impose a night-time curfew from 9pm to 3am for their whole geographical territory or just for certain locations, especially in Phnom Penh, provincial towns and downtowns,” the circular stated.

Capital and provincial governors have to set up public facilities where rapid testing for Covid-19 is available to anyone free of charge, according to the circular.

Phnom Penh municipal police chief Sar Thet said on July 29 that National Police chief Neth Savoeun has advised traffic police to enforce masking requirements for motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians to prevent the spread of Delta.

“Phnom Penh residents: please wear masks when traveling on foot, on bicycles, motorcycles, in tuk-tuks … please wear masks everyone to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Savoeun wrote in a Facebook post.

Sar Thet said the police will stop those who are travelling without a mask and educate them on the requirements and if they fail to comply they will be fined according to the law.

Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has put in place administrative measures in Phnom Penh for 14 days starting from 11:59pm on July 29 to August 12.

The municipal administration has also imposed a night-time curfew suspending jobs, occupations or businesses from 9pm to 3am except for those deemed necessary and given permission from authorities.

“While these measures are in place, all gatherings are prohibited. Food can be sold for takeaway or delivery. Factories in Phnom Penh have to enforce health measures properly including some bans,” Sreng said.

In Banteay Meanchey province, governor Um Reatrey has temporarily closed the border to migrant workers, vendors and traders to prevent the spread of Covid-19, except for the transport of goods or with special permission from the authorities.

Reatrey said he had notified the provincial administration of Sa Kaeo province in Thailand of the closure from July 29 to August 12.

In Preah Sihanouk province, governor Kuoch Chamroeun on July 29 ordered that town, district governors and police forces take urgent measures against gatherings and drinking at public locations such as restaurants, KTVs, bars and similar venues.

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