Updated: November 15, 2021 07:31 AM GMT
Tourists walk along a beach on Koh Rong island in Sihanoukville province of Cambodia on Oct. 31, 2019. The Southeast Asian country has announced that fully vaccinated foreign travelers can visit without quarantine from Nov. 15, giving a boost to the Covid-hobbled tourism industry. (Photo: AFP)
Cambodia has ended all quarantine for travelers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in a bid to revive an economy crushed by the pandemic.
The quarantine waiver will be effective from Nov. 15 and will apply to all including those currently in quarantine and tested negative for the disease. However, those who have not been vaccinated are required to do a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and spend 14 days in quarantine.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said quarantine was no longer necessary for people arriving by land, sea and air after authorities vaccinated 88 percent of the country’s 16 million people. However, Covid-19 rapid tests will still be required.
“You just need to wait 15-20 minutes for the rapid test results and then you can continue your journey to any place across the entire country with no limitations, however you wish,” he said in a televised address.
“This policy will be applied without discrimination to everyone, whether they are Cambodian people who are living or traveling abroad and returning home, or foreign tourists or investors. This applies to everyone equally.”
The policy is clearly aimed at, among other things, resurrecting the country’s once-lucrative international tourist industry.
We need to be even more careful and responsible, and make correct choices based on the local situation and context
The government has estimated the pandemic cost six million Cambodian jobs and sources say the government will focus on boosting tourism from countries that require only short-haul flights, such as Japan, South Korea, China and other Southeast Asian countries.
However, travel overland via its immediate neighbors — Thailand, Laos and Vietnam — could prove difficult. All three countries are yet to rein in the pandemic due to a slow rollout of their respective vaccination programs.
Cambodia began opening up to a "new normal" on Nov. 1 with a gradual easing of health restrictions designed to curb the pandemic after daily case numbers plummeted below 70. But the death rate still remains high.
Of the 84 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the first half of November, 29 people were vaccinated.
The World Health Organization's representative in Cambodia, Li Ailan, remains cautious.
“We need to be even more careful and responsible, and make correct choices based on the local situation and context,” she told the government-friendly Khmer Times.
“Meanwhile, we all need to be ready for expected or unexpected possible consequences of our choices as there is no zero risk. We are learning how to manage risks every day.”
Meanwhile, the health ministry has issued a list of 20 Covid-19 vaccinations that it does recognize among travelers to Cambodia.
“With this decision, I hope that Cambodian people who are returning from abroad are not worried about any [quarantine requirements] any longer,” Hun Sen said. “I hope our compatriots enjoy our reopening. It is widely due to the country having achieved such an outstanding rate of vaccination.”
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.