Opening ‘not ideal’ for investors to return

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Tourists arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport before the pandemic. Heng Chivoan

The business community has welcomed a government decision to ease restrictions for local and foreign investors who reside in the Kingdom, particularly the waiver of hotel quarantine and the option to isolate at home.

The decision was one of many revealed when the government on November 1 announced the reopening of the country in all sectors and resumption of socio-economic activity.

 

Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 1 noted that the new quarantine site policy was effective immediately and that its execution does not require his authorisation.

“Now, all local investors who are returning from abroad [are no longer obliged] to quarantine at a hotel. Thus those who are sufficiently able can isolate at home without seeking permission from me. Please do so from today,” he said, noting that most businessmen – local and foreign – are required to quarantine for just three days.

Acleda Bank Plc president and group managing director In Channy welcomed the decision, saying it would help to restore economic activity.

“This important decision on quarantine at home for returning businessmen is brilliant since it will gradually bring back businesses to their normalcy, and of course it will help stimulate economic growth.

“I have noticed that the Royal Government of Cambodia has chosen the right preventive strategy related to Covid-19. It makes sure Cambodia has enough vaccines for all required ages and that they are fully vaccinated, including with boosters, plus strictly enforces health measures to maximise prevention of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Channy believes that the government has taken all the necessary measures to control the risk of infection of the novel coronavirus equitably among Cambodians and anyone else living or doing business in the Kingdom, emphasising that the disease knows no rules or boundaries.

 

“In short, the government has buckled down to make Cambodia resilient to the Covid-19 pandemic for when the country opens for those who are fully vaccinated,” he said, lauding the move as “the right decision to minimise economic impact”.

Anthony Galliano, the group CEO of financial services firm Cambodian Investment Management Co Ltd, said Covid-related restrictions are rapidly being relaxed as ASEAN nations make steady progress with their vaccination programmes, which have accelerated over the last couple of months despite initial sluggish rollouts.

“The response to the Kingdom relaxing quarantine restrictions is overwhelmingly positive and business travel is resuming, as three-day quarantine for fully vaccinated investors and expert is tolerable, however not ideal.

“Any relaxation for Cambodian citizens and foreign residents of the Kingdom would be joyously embraced as a business is two-way, bilateral, and not unilateral. Many local businesses such as ours require international travel as we have subsidiaries overseas or demand project work in other countries,” he said.

He maintained that the costs and time associated with the three-day quarantine may seem excessive for businessmen who have received a booster dose.

Galliano suggested that it would be more reasonable to emulate Thailand’s one-day hotel stay and release with a negative test.

Given the past history of some non-compliant behaviour, the government may want to consider severe penalties on the business itself in case of violations, he said.

The first-dose vaccination rates among the target populations according to age group have reached 100.05 per cent (18 and older), 97.93 per cent (12-17), 101.46 per cent (6-11) and 8.81 per cent (5), the Ministry of Health reported on November 1.

The ministry said 85.92 per cent of the estimated total population of 16 million have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.