Water Festival Called Off as Phnom Penh Rolls Out Third Doses

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Phnom Penh’s Water Festival in 2014. The Water Festival is among 22 public holidays set to remain on the calendar. (Flickr/PhotAsia)
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Long boats will not race down the Tonle Sap river in front of Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace this year after the government decided to again cancel the annual Water Festival, according to Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

The announcement coincides with the start of a third-dose vaccine campaign on Monday in 11 districts of the capital, and follows the introduction of measures that require vaccination proof to enter educational establishments and businesses.

Sar Kheng was speaking in Battambang when he said the Covid-19 situation meant that the popular festival —which is celebrated across the country but with large celebrations in Phnom Penh — had to be canceled.

“Now, we are moving into October. According to the government’s decision, this year we will not have a Water Festival like previous years because of the Covid issue,” the interior minister said.

The Water Festival was canceled last year for similar reasons. The festival has been called off five times in the past decade, for varying reasons, such as the death of the King Father, drought, and a deadly stampede that occurred during the festival at the Naga bridge on Koh Pich.

The government went ahead with the Pchum Ben holidays last week, billing it as a test case for a potential reopening of the tourism sector and, as Prime Minister Hun Sen put it recently, a “new normal.”

“This is our big test in order to move to the reopening of the country for all sectors,” he said at a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday.

“If in around 10 to 15 days, our situation is still stable … I think it is time for us to reopen the economy and society again with all sectors but in line with a new way.”

At the start of the Pchum Ben holidays, Phnom Penh said residents would have to produce a vaccine card to enter schools or businesses, even though government figures show that almost all people in the capital, except those with existing health conditions, have been fully vaccinated.

Businesses and establishments that did not enforce the rule could face closure, revocation of licenses and legal action based on the controversial Covid-19 Law, said City Hall.

While the government doesn’t give provincial vaccination statistics, it says 84 percent of the country’s population has received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Phnom Penh City Hall on Monday started administering a third dose of Sinovac to residents in 11 districts of the city, with three other districts slated to give shots starting October 30. Residents who had their second shot at least four months ago can get the booster shot. Frontline workers, politicians and military personnel and their families have already received third doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

On October 4, the Ministry of Labor also recommended that factories and workplaces test workers after the Pchum Ben holidays, even though Hun Sen had ordered an end to rapid testing unless people exhibited symptoms of Covid-19.

Phnom Penh vaccination centers from October 11:

Boeng Keng KangToul Svay Prey Health Center, Ponhea Hok Primary School, Toul Svay Prey Primary School
ChamkarmonPhsar Doeum Thkav Health Center, Toul Tom Poung Primary School, Boeng Trabek Primary School, Toul Tom Poung 2 Primary School
Chbar AmpovChbar Ampov Referral Hospital, Niroth Health Center, Prek Aeng Health Center, Kbal Koh Health Center, Prek Thmey Health Center, Veal Sbov Primary School*, Prek Pra Krom Primary School*, Brachumvong Primary School
DangkaoSambo Meas Primary School, Borey New World market, Choeung Ek Primary School, Kouk Ampil pagoda, Prey Sar Primary School, Wat Ha Primary School, Prey Veng pagoda, Pong Teuk Primary School, Kraing Pongro Primary School, Kampong Kdol Primary School, Prek Kampeus Primary School, Borey New World Kuor Srov 3 market, Spean Thma Primary School, Tien Primary School, Kong Noy Primary School
KambolKambol pagoda, Snguon Pich pagoda, Snao commune hall*, Ang Sdok pagoda, Boeng Thom commune hall, Toul Key Primary School, Svay Meas pagoda, Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone
MeancheyChak Angre Loeu Primary School, Former Sports Wear Factory, Dambouk Khpuos Primary School, Sansam Kosal Primary School, Stung Meanchey Primary School, Phum Russei Primary School, Lim Chheanghak market*
Prampi MakaraPhnom Penh Referral Hospital, Olympia medical clinic, Bak Touk Primary School
Pur SencheyCanadia Park, ISI Football Court, Meng Da factory, Prey Speu pagoda, Lorn City market, Trapaing Krasaing commune hall, Vocational Training Institute, Ly Kea restaurant, Lem Lai factory*
Russei KeoRussei Keo Primary School, Chamroeun Rath Primary School, Toul Sangke pagoda, Toul Santhivon pagoda
Sen SokCambodia-China Friendship Hospital, Khmounh Health Center, Krang Thnong Health Center, Borey New World Aeon 2, The Queen restaurant, Yamabiko Primary School*
Toul KorkPremium Football Court St. 347, Santhormuk Primary School, Boeng Salang Primary School, Anukwat Primary School, Mittapheap Primary School, Toul Kork Primary School
Source: GMAC. *Edited on December 12.

The following map is based on searches and calls to local officials. Please email [email protected] if you see any inaccuracies.

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Updated on October 12 with map.

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