Travel Restrictions Eased, Allowing Movement Within Provinces

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A roadblock on National Road 6 between Phnom Penh and Kandal province on the morning of April 10, 2020 (Chorn Chanren/VOD)
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The government on Friday eased pandemic-related restrictions on travel, which went into effect overnight Thursday, announcing that movement within provinces and between Phnom Penh and neighboring Kandal would be allowed.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the government said it was implementing a one-week ban on civilian travel in and out of Phnom Penh, and between districts outside the capital.

According to the new order signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and dated Friday, people will be allowed to travel from one district to another within any province, but the ban on movement between provinces will remain until April 16.

Travel between Phnom Penh and Kandal province will not fall within the scope of the travel ban, the order said.

The government cited the needs of businesses, civil servants, employers, workers and the general public, and the capital’s proximity to Kandal, as reasons for the rapid relaxing of the initial restrictions.

In a Facebook post announcing the travel ban on Thursday evening, Hun Sen said he “didn’t have a choice” and asked the public for understanding.

“If [Cambodia] had a law on putting the country under a state of emergency, this law might have been used at this time,” the post says.

But two days prior, the premier said that there was only a 0.1 percent chance that a state of emergency would be ordered after the law went into effect.

The draft law — which gives the government broad powers to restrict people’s movement and communications and implement martial law in times of war, pandemics or other national security crises — was approved by the National Assembly on Friday morning and awaits review by the Senate and Constitutional Council. 

The Health Ministry has confirmed 119 Covid-19 cases since January, with more than half of total patients reported as having recovered.

The nationwide travel restrictions do not apply to the transportation of goods, and movement of civil servants with ID; factory workers who have permission from the Labor Ministry; military, emergency and sanitation vehicles; and groups of no more than four people going to a hospital.

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