Phnom Penh Extends Night Curfew as Covid-19 Cases Mount

3 min read
An edjai in Phnom Penh on April 13, 2021. (Mech Dara/VOD)

Phnom Penh extended a night curfew mandate by two additional weeks, preventing all non-essential movements from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., as the city grapples with a growing number of active Covid-19 cases.

City Hall’s night curfew, brought in two weeks ago, was scheduled to end on Thursday. A new directive issued by Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng on Tuesday extended the curfew to April 28 and maintains the existing restrictions.

Phnom Penh has seen a wave of Covid-19 cases, especially at a garment factory in Meanchey district and across various markets in the city, including O’Russei Market.

The new directive continues the ban on late night movements and also places restrictions on gatherings at home that involve dinner or drinking. Members of a household are allowed to gather or for a funeral, and movements are allowed in exceptional cases such as for medical emergencies or to get tested.

The governor last week separately banned the sale of liquor in the city and prohibited restaurants and cafes from accepting diners, allowing only takeaway and delivery services. Essential services can continue unhindered. There is also a national ban in place on travel between the provinces.

Ny Thy, a 51-year-old waste picker, who are also called edjai, said she hasn’t been stopped from going out to collect recyclable materials, like cans, at night, but the amount of waste has decreased.

“I have to keep collecting [waste] even though I am concerned about getting infected because we are a poor family and if we do not collect how can we get our food and support our livelihood?” Thy said.

She said the streets were very quiet at night now. She used to get a lot of waste from restaurants after they finished their service, but with the new restrictions she is collecting only a few kilograms each night.

But looking at the waste, she could see that households were still keeping up their alcohol consumption despite the ban on sales.

“People are continuing to drink with their families,” Thy said, adding that she was taking health precautions to not get infected.

Mean Thy, a ride-share tuk-tuk driver, said he had still been allowed to sleep along the streets in his vehicle at night.

But he had seen a reduction in customers since the government’s Covid-19 restrictions were announced, he said.

“Today, I had only one client and that will pay for my meal. People are very scared,” he said.

He said tuk-tuk drivers, market vendors and other small businesses were feeling the pinch of the government’s work-from-home recommendation, village-level lockdowns and curfew.

Chok, a fried banana seller, said he was worried about not being able to see his family, who are living in Kandal’s Koh Thom district. More than a hundred people have tested positive in Koh Thom at casinos along the border with Vietnam.

“It is difficult when a husband cannot go to meet his wife and children. If someone gets sick like my mother and I want to visit her, they will not allow me to visit her — it is difficult.”

The Health Ministry reported 181 cases on Tuesday, 178 of which are from the “February 20 event.” Phnom Penh again recorded the most cases across the country, with 140 new infections detected as of Tuesday morning.

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