The Cambodian government on Thursday morning ended the inter-province travel ban earlier than scheduled, in a bid to ease traffic congestion on the last day of the Khmer New Year holiday.
In an announcement dated April 16 and signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the government declared the travel ban, which restricted travel between the capital and provinces, ended Thursday morning, as opposed to the earlier cutoff of midnight tonight.
Last Thursday, the Cambodian government announced a one-week travel ban within the country, preventing all travel between provinces, on account of concerns garment workers were planning to disobey orders to work through the Khmer New Year.
The ban was lifted early “to meet the actual needs of people traveling and to ease traffic jams which people are waiting to get from one province to another,” the announcement read.
It wasn’t immediately made clear by the government why there would traffic jams if the travel ban had succeeded in preventing people from traveling to the provinces.
National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun said citizens had respected order and the police witnessed “no protests” but that some people and workers, used smaller roads to get to their hometowns.
“We couldn’t deploy armed forces and put barriers like the U.S. and Mexico. This was just a travel restriction, not a state of emergency,” he said.
When asked if the government will issue another travel ban, he said: “I don’t know whether there will be another travel restriction or not since I am not the government.”
The government is attempting to rush through a draft “state of emergency” law, which has been widely criticized for giving the administration sweeping powers to severely curtail fundamental rights and freedoms. The law is expected to pass the Senate on Friday.
As of Thursday, Cambodia had not reported a single new novel coronavirus case for four days, leaving the total number of cases at 122, with 98 recoveries.