Gov’t imposes inter-province travel ban ahead of New Year

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Officers stop a vehicle caught travelling past the 8pm-5am curfew in Phnom Penh. Hean Rangsey

The government has imposed inter-provincial travel ban from April 7-20 in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19. However, Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal province are treated as one administrative region, so travel between them can continue.

These restrictions do not apply to the transportation of goods, according to a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on April 6.

Similarly exempted is travel by civil servants or the military and the movements of ambulances, fire engines or rubbish trucks as well as the transportation of factory workers, travel to hospitals and other travel that has been expressly permitted by the authorities.

All tourist attractions – national parks, casinos, vacation destinations and any other entertainment venues – have been ordered closed during this period.

The move comes as the Kingdom grapples with the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19.

On April 6 alone, the Ministry of Health reported the country’s 22nd death from the disease and another 71 infections linked to the February 20 community outbreak.

The 71 included one Myanmar and three Chinese nationals, with the rest being Cambodian. The Cambodian patients include three children aged 5 to 16. Phnom Penh recorded the most cases at 32, followed by Preah Sihanouk province at 22, Kandal at nine, three each in Pursat and Svay Rieng, and one each in Prey Veng and Kampot.

The latest cases bring the Kingdom’s third community transmission tally to 2,293, with 1,276 recoveries as of March 6.

Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said she is worried about the upcoming New Year holiday because it traditionally is a time when people travel to their home provinces to visit family, which could be disastrous during a pandemic.

“Especially for those in Phnom Penh, I know people want to return to their hometowns but I beg them to reconsider because it just isn’t the right thing to do this year,” she said.

She said she feared that any province that is currently without Covid-19 could become another hotspot after Khmer New Year if people travel.

Vandine said the restrictions were intended to break the chain of transmission.

As of April 6, Cambodia had recorded a total of 2,824 Covid-19 cases with 1,003 receiving ongoing treatment and 22 fatalities.