Phnom Penh officials on Thursday imposed a night curfew in the city and restricted non-essential travel from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for two weeks, as the city continues to record new COVID-19 cases.
The directive follows a new sub-decree issued by the Cambodian government Wednesday evening based on the recently passed COVID-19 and infectious diseases law. The sub-decree allows for, among other things, the imposition of a curfew to restrict people’s movements, lockdowns in certain designated areas, and for travel bans within the country.
The new curfew will be in place from April 1 to April 14 – which is also the first day of the three-day Khmer New Year holiday – and will be in place for nine hours every night.
The local government did allow some exceptions to the curfew, including the movement of workers who worked at establishments allowed to remain open beyond the curfew, travel for emergency medical care, and for medical personnel, civil servants, essential services, and food delivery services to move around uninhibited.
The measure comes as many provinces, most notably Phnom Penh, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk, struggle to curb the community transmission of COVID-19 since February 20, recording close to 2,000 cases in the last six weeks.
Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng declined to comment on Thursday on the new directive.
“Sorry, I am in a video conference in connection with security issues in the city,” he said.
He did tell government-friendly Fresh News on Thursday that anyone caught violating the curfew would have their vehicle confiscated and required to be in quarantine for two weeks.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police Spokesperson San Sokseiha said the City Hall order was not a lockdown but an attempt to reduce movements at night.
“It’s not about a city lockdown. It’s a decision which merely aims at banning the people from traveling between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the early morning,” he said.
Ngeth Chou, an economic analyst, believed that the new directive would impact night vendors but the increasing COVID-19 cases are concerning.
“The situation seems not to get improved,” he said. “So, in the current situation, the economy is perhaps not a priority. The priority is the security, safety and well-being of citizens.”
In Preah Sihanouk province, Governor Kuoch Chamroeun also issued a temporary closure order for parts of Stung Hav district’s Tomnob Rolok commune which is seeing a rapid spread of COVID-19.
It has restricted movements in and out of the province after seeing a sharp spike in cases in the last three weeks.