Takhmao Tightens Up Lockdown, PM Urges Stricter Policing in Capital

3 min read
A courtroom equipped with transparent screen as Covid-19 precautions, in a photo posted to Justice Ministry official Kim Santepheap’s Facebook page on April 16, 2021.

At least three people have been arrested across the country for violating Covid-19 measures, while Kandal’s provincial governor said he was ramping up restrictions in Takhmao city just two days into a two-week lockdown.

Phnom Penh and Takhmao city were placed under lockdown midnight Wednesday based on a last-minute order posted to Prime Minister Hun Sen Facebook page. A few hours earlier, shoppers flocked to the capital’s supermarkets after a recording of Hun Sen discussing the lockdown leaked to the media.

On Thursday, City Hall fielded hundreds of questions online from Phnom Penh residents, who received a small number of official responses clarifying the lockdown rules, which at that point allowed people to exercise within their neighborhoods.

However, Kandal governor Kong Sophorn said Friday afternoon that the rules were changing in Takhmao.

“From tomorrow, do not allow people to leave their houses. [They] cannot go from one house to another … and even exercise is banned — kicking shuttlecocks, jogging along the riverside are banned,” Sophorn said.

Police must be deployed to make sure “all roads are 100 percent closed, and do not allow any activities — only selling gasoline and the most necessary things.”

Only provincial-level officials will be allowed to authorize travel, he said, saying lower-level officials would be violating instructions if they handed out permits.

In Phnom Penh, one man was arrested in Toul Kork district for cutting down police tape marking isolation areas, said municipal police spokesman San Sokseyha.

Dara Rath Sokun was sent to the court Friday morning, and could face charges under the Covid-19 Law for obstructing public health measures, Sokseyha said.

“We have seen him cutting [police tape] in the area that we locked down, and it is a red-handed crime,” he said.

Meanwhile, two people were arrested for escaping quarantine in Preah Sihanouk, the provincial administration said, and seven people were fined for not wearing masks.

Police arrested Kim Sokra, 30, and Kim Thary, 31, following a search after they fled quarantine in Sihanoukville’s Muoy commune, the administration said. A prosecutor has requested that they be placed in pretrial detention for violations of a new Covid-19 law, it said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on his Facebook page on Friday that people were being too loose with the lockdown in Phnom Penh.

“[We] have seen streets remain very crowded,” Hun Sen said. “I would like to clarify that this lockdown is to stop people from leaving their houses except in a few cases. Please do not use the exemptions as an excuse to leave.”

“I am happy with news that violators have been arrested and sent to the court,” he added. “I encourage that [they be] sent to court without exception for any person that breaches the lockdown and rules and sub-decree that we have introduced recently.”

People were still drinking in groups or leaving Phnom Penh, and police were not strictly controlling checkpoints, he said, urging that “serious action” be taken.

“Please do not allow four or 10 people to destroy hundreds or millions of people’s lives,” Hun Sen said.

Justice Ministry secretary of state Kim Santepheap also posted on his Facebook photos of courtrooms being equipped with transparent screens on judges’ podiums, clerks’ and lawyers’ desks and witness stands to prepare them for handling cases amid Covid-19.

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