A protester looks on as workers call for benefits after their textile factory was shuttered amidst the economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic in Phnom Penh on July 29. (Photo: AFP)
Cambodia has eased some travel restrictions for people attempting to enter the kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases continues to rise steadily, albeit from a low base.
The government announced it would reduce the Covid-19 service charge for foreign arrivals to US$2,000 from $3,000 and they must purchase a local health insurance package for any potential treatment at a cost of $90 and valid for 20 days.
Travelers also require a Covid-19-free health certificate, which has emerged as a bone of contention among people trying to get back into the country who say doctors are not prepared to issue such medical certificates.
The remainder of the deposit will be returned once all passengers arriving on the same flight have tested negative for the virus. They must still self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival and undergo a second Covid-19 test on the 13th day.
Land borders with neighboring countries remain closed.
A government statement said that if any of the passengers test positive, then all passengers from the same flight would be quarantined for 14 days, and each would be required to pay for tests, a hotel or quarantine facility, meals, doctors, and all costs would be deducted from the deposit.
It also said Cambodia had eased entry restrictions for “sponsored” business-linked travelers during the Covid-19 period, but further details were unavailable.
Cambodia has emerged relatively unscathed from the pandemic but its economy has been hit hard.
About 3,000 tourism-related businesses have closed since the initial Covid-19 outbreak seven months ago, leaving some 50,000 people without jobs.
The Health Ministry says to date 243 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed with 202 recovered and no deaths. Almost all were foreigners or locals who caught the disease while working abroad.
Latest cases include a Cambodian man returning from Pakistan through Malaysia, a Kazakh national returning from Kazakhstan via South Korea and a US embassy official who also arrived through South Korea.
The ministry said the diplomat was treated by American doctors at the US embassy.
Last week Cambodia suspended flights from Malaysia and Indonesia to strengthen "health safety for people across the country because from August and September [when] Cambodia will have many holidays, and people will travel to different tourism destinations.”
That followed a spike in Covid-19 cases and a decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the request of health authorities.
The Khmer Times on Aug. 5 said the abrupt cancellation of flights “had left hundreds, if not thousands, stranded in Malaysia and Cambodia and to a lesser extent Indonesia.”