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Travel ban on 10 African countries

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A passenger checks the departures board at Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2021. Heng Chivoan

Travel ban on 10 African countries

Cambodia has decided to ban entry of travellers from 10 African countries in a bid to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The ban is effective from December 1 and includes anyone who has visited them in the past three weeks.

This followed the announcement of similar travel ban policies enacted by the US, UK, EU and other nations including neighbours such as Thailand for countries in the region of Africa where the variant was first detected.

According to a press statement issued by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on November 29, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported the discovery of two newly-flagged variants of SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 – formally known as B.1.640 and B.1.1.529 (Omicron) in several countries in Africa.

“With the approval of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the health ministry is banning travellers who have originated from or have in the past three weeks passed through the 10 countries in Africa in order to prevent transmission of the new Omicron variant – both by air and land – until further notice,” he said.

The 10 restricted countries are Botswana, Eswatina (Swaziland), Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Zambia.

Separately, Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has decided to allow the reopening of entertainment businesses that were previously deemed high-risk for Covid-19 transmission and shut down for an extended period, including Karaoke parlours, nightclubs and discotheques in Phnom Penh, effective from November 30.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Orange Cancer Clinic on November 30, Sreng said the decision to reopen the entertainment sector was due to the high rate of vaccination in Cambodia.

However, Sreng said all businesses must adapt to the “new normal” and those who violated the instructions regarding preventive health measures will have their licences revoked and may face permanent closure.

“Owners of karaoke parlours, bars and discotheques need to assign staff to stand at the entrances to check the Covid-19 vaccination cards of those entering in accordance with the regulations and the instructions of the municipal hall. They must also always follow the three dos and three don’ts guidelines,” he said.

Sreng added that owners must follow the minimum standard operating procedures outlined by the Ministry of Tourism and other guidelines determined by relevant institutions including all health safety measures such as taking temperatures, frequent hand-washing, mask wearing and social distancing.

“If the owner of any business does not follow the law or properly implement these measures, the authorities must take action by revoking their licence or permission letters and the business may have to be shut down completely,” he said.

The offences, he added, shall be subject to administrative punishments and legal punishments in a court of law, including the public disclosure of offenders in accordance with the Law on Measures to Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Serious, Dangerous and Contagious Diseases.

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