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Cambodia begins opening up after reaching herd immunity

Quarantine restrictions reduced and schools reopening as 'new normal' begins

Cambodia begins opening up after reaching herd immunity

Cambodian parliament members walk past an honor guard after paying their respects at the monument of the late King Norodom Sihanouk during a ceremony commemorating his ninth death anniversary in Phnom Penh on Oct. 15. (Photo: AFP)

Published: October 18, 2021 09:01 AM GMT

Cambodia has slashed quarantine requirements for inbound business people and schools are reopening after the number of Covid-19 cases fell sharply, providing some much-needed relief for an economy that has been crushed by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said health measures designed to curb the disease would be relaxed if numbers remained low amid a rapid rollout of the vaccination program.

“Cambodia has achieved a vaccination percentage over the expected target and built herd immunity nationwide against the transmission of Covid-19,” the Health Ministry said in a statement translated by the government-friendly Khmer Times.

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“The government has decided to reopen the country gradually along with the highest vigilance and responsibility as the new normal context by adjusting the quarantine period for travelers who have been fully vaccinated entering through all checkpoints.”

Cambodia today reported just 195 Covid-19 cases, its lowest daily number since April when intense lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed amid fears of an outbreak of the Delta variant. Cases then peaked at around 1,000 a day.

Under new guidelines, all travelers must still acquire a certificate showing a negative test for Covid-19 within 72 hours of arriving in Cambodia. It must be recognized by the health authorities of their country of origin, along with Covid-19 vaccination cards stating the full range of vaccines and the date of vaccination.

Everyone is hoping the vaccination program has done its job, the pandemic is subsiding and the new normal has begun

Restrictions for vaccinated travelers will be reduced. Government authorities and “special guests” will not have to quarantine while investors, diplomats and businessmen will quarantine for three days, down from two weeks.

Quarantine for “all travelers” will be reduced to seven days from two weeks for the fully vaccinated.

Those who have not been inoculated will have to spend two weeks in quarantine.

Cambodia has confirmed 116,860 cases of Covid-19 with 111,149 recoveries and 2,670 deaths. Among the 12 people who died in the previous 24 hours, the Health Ministry said eight were not vaccinated.

Entertainment venues are also reopening and tourist operators are hoping border crossings will also reopen soon with international carriers scheduling flights into the country.

Government sources say tourism officials will focus on China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, plus the other nine members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, which require only a single flight into Cambodia.

Visits by long-haul international tourists are complicated by necessary transit stops, normally through Singapore or Bangkok where travel restrictions are also being eased.

“Everyone is hoping the vaccination program has done its job, the pandemic is subsiding and the new normal has begun. Still, it’s a slow process but I think people are feeling better that things will improve,” one tourist operator said.


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