Phnom Penh Public Markets Allowed to Reopen All Stalls

2 min read
A shopper selects vegetables at a street market stall near Phnom Penh’s Olympic Market ahead of the two-week citywide market shutdown on April 24, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Public markets have been allowed to reopen all stalls — not only essential items — in a late-night announcement by Phnom Penh City Hall, as shoppers on Tuesday welcomed a return to relatively normal routines.

At Boeng Keng Kang market, arrivals still faced temperature checks and alcohol hand sanitizers on entry, but also newly reopened clothing stalls and salons. Almost all businesses were operating again, or cleaning and preparing to open.

Chea Sovanny, a 30-year-old grocery seller, said she had already reopened on May 25, but there had been little activity or trade. She hoped that the market’s full reopening would bring back business.

“I’m so happy about this new announcement,” Sovanny said. “I have struggled with financial problems.”

“Now everything is normal,” she added.

Sovanny, however, also noted that the market had still not turned on all its lights, and was dark and uninviting.

Tha Rothanak said she bought food at the market once a week, and was glad to see it back to relative normal, as prices were cheaper there than at supermarkets and other shops outside.

“I think it is good to reopen the market again,” Rothanak said, though she insisted that health precautions are maintained. “I am still aware of the prevention policies.”

The market’s manager, Ek Nimol, said the market’s activities had been disrupted for 40 days.

He added that the lights needed to be checked before being turned on again. “We fear that rats may have cut the wires in the market,” Nimol said.

According to the City Hall announcement, posted on Monday night, public markets were allowed to reopen all stalls as of Tuesday.

However, informal markets such as around factories and hospitals or along the city’s streets were still restricted to selling only essential daily items, the announcement said.

In recent months, the closure of the city’s markets amid a surge in Covid-19 cases and a citywide lockdown became a point of controversy and financial woes, with disruptions to supply lines causing problems for buyers and farmers as well as vendors. As markets were closed, many sellers took to pushing their wares on carts to try to earn an income and keep the city fed and supplied.

Both the Health Ministry and City Hall have stopped disclosing the number of daily Covid-19 cases in the capital, though nationwide the country continues to see around 600 cases a day. Cambodia has now recorded 39,464 cases, 33,571 recoveries and 361 deaths, according to the ministry.

Most restrictions have now been lifted in the capital, with some exceptions including schools, entertainment venues and exercise facilities.

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