Updated: November 02, 2021 06:26 AM GMT
Local tourists walk on a decorated floating stage in Kampong Speu province in Cambodia on Oct. 24. (Photo: AFP)
Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced the full reopening of Cambodia from Nov. 1 after a swift and successful rollout of its Covid-19 vaccination program helped to contain the disease.
“From today onward, the country is fully reopened in all sectors. Expect crowded shops and roads,” Hun Sen said while speaking at the Peace Palace during a vaccination campaign aimed at children aged five or less.
He also announced that business people returning from abroad would now be allowed to quarantine at home.
“From now on, we need to learn to live with the Covid-19 pandemic in the new normal,” he added, aware that the decision would cheer businesses in an economy crushed by the pandemic.
Hun Sen said Cambodia's Covid-19 death rate, which is higher than some other countries, was still a major concern despite the internationally backed vaccination program. The country has so far inoculated more than 80 percent of its 16.5 million people.
Daily cases had peaked at around 1,000 a day until the numbers dropped dramatically in October after the health ministry ceased rapid testing in favor of PCR lab tests.
There are a lot of businesses across all sectors that have gone under and those that remain are hanging in on hopes for better days
On Nov. 1, the ministry reported six deaths and 91 new cases, the lowest numbers since April. Of the dead, four were reportedly not vaccinated.
Cambodia has recorded a total of 118,500 infections and 2,781 deaths since the pandemic broke out in February 2020. The government said some six million jobs in the informal and formal economies have either been wiped out or will be lost with the tourism sector being the hardest hit.
“The [latest] decision will be welcomed by everyone trying to do business in this country. There are a lot of businesses across all sectors that have gone under and those that remain are hanging in on hopes for better days,” said one businessman who declined to be named.
“There are still many issues to resolve. In regards to tourism, it’s about getting the travelers and holidaymakers back and getting flights into Cambodia and opening the land borders with neighboring countries, which are still struggling with the disease.
“We also have an economic dislocation because many people have found alternative work and have moved on with their lives from what they had in a pre-Covid world. Everything has changed.”
Last week Cambodia’s government announced plans to reopen the country in several stages to fully vaccinated foreign tourists starting from the end of November.
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