Authorities are set to lift restrictions on some “high-risk” businesses after November 30, including nightlife entertainment venues that rely heavily on alcohol sales such as KTV/karaoke parlours, nightclubs and bars, which have all been closed longer than other establishments.

Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed on November 8 that he would allow entertainment venues to reopen starting December 1. Wedding receptions are also permitted to resume but only 200 guests at maximum will be permitted to attend.

“I already decided last night to permit the reopening of KTVs, discotheques and nightclubs at the request of [Minister of Economy and Finance] Aun Pornmoniroth who led a meeting on the topic along with [Minister of Health] Mam Bun Heng,” Hun Sen said.

He made the remarks at the inauguration ceremony for the new headquarters of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, which was built in the Khmer architectural style at a cost of $28 million.

He said the entertainment sector could not reopen earlier because Cambodia had just reopened schools and now was the time to concentrate on making that go smoothly.

He stressed the importance of the fact the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia has been dropping even though the reopening of the schools permitted more than 3 million students to return to classrooms, with the exception of kindergarteners aged three and four because that age group isn’t eligible for vaccination.

Separately, health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said the US-made Covid-19 treatment drug Molnupiravir – which was approved for emergency use by the US Department of Health and given full approval by UK regulators in early November – could reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 50 per cent in Covid-19 patients.

“We’ve permitted the use of this drug because we observed that the drug is safe and effective according to the research and the clinical trials in developed countries including the US itself.

“This medicine will contribute to the reduction in hospitalisations of patients and reduce the mortality rate of Covid-19 patients by up to 50 per cent … Prime Minister Hun Sen made the right decision to order this newly invented medicine for the Cambodian people,” she said.

Hun Sen On November 1 announced the purchase of enough Molnupiravir for the treatment of 50,000 people at a total cost of about $2.5 million.

Vandine said the drug is only to be used under medical supervision after the patient is properly evaluated by medical doctors. It has also been ordered by a number of countries such as the UK, South Korea, Malaysia and Australia, among others.

As of November 7, Cambodia had vaccinated 87.27 per cent of the total population of around 16 million.