Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed provincial authorities to refrain from imposing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering their territories. The measure, he said, should only apply to those suspected of carrying Covid-19.
In an audio message on May 6, he said that after the government lifted the lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao-town in Kandal province, some provincial governors had issued directives mandating 14-day quarantine for those entering their provinces.
“Doing this is tantamount to forming a state within a state. It’s like if I went to Indonesia and I’d have to undergo quarantine for 14 days. If we do this, it’s like we are placing the whole country under lockdown,” he said.
The prime minister advised that only those suspected of having contracted the virus be placed in quarantine and ordered provincial governors who had introduced this requirement to revise it immediately as it could interrupt people’s movements.
“Quarantine should be applied only to those who are suspected to be at high risk of being infected with Covid19. It should not be applied to everyone who travels across your province. If you require this, it is like our people are living in cages,” he said.
The provinces that have already issued such directives have to revise them immediately in order to ease people’s ability to travel. He made it clear that what he said did not imply that they should ease all of the preventive measures, but just enable people to travel anywhere in the country.
“If every province requires 14-day quarantine, it is no different from dividing Cambodia into 25 separate countries that require quarantines when going from one to the other,” he said, referring to the capital and 24
provinces across the country. “If you require this, how can we survive?”
Quarantine requirement for Cambodian people, he said, hinders economic development. He encouraged each province to put in place strict but reasonable measures, like what the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has done.
“All provincial governors have to report to working groups created for communication between the prime minister and provincial governors all the measures that you plan to announce,” he said.
Prior to Hun Sen’s order, some provinces had announced quarantine requirements for those entering their respective territories – including Siem Reap, Tbong Khmum, Prey Veng and Preah Sihanouk.
Preah Sihanouk province initially even required Cambodians who wished to enter the coastal province to have health certificates indicating that they do not have Covid-19.
But provincial administration spokesman Kheang Phearum said his province will revise the directive that was previously announced.
Similarly, Tbong Khmum province has revised its directive following Hun Sen’s orders. The provincial administration said now only those suspected of having contracted the virus have to undergo a rapid test. They may have to wait in quarantine while awaiting the official result.