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High-Risk Businesses Clinging on as Capital Extends Suspension

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Phnom Penh: High-risk businesses and those selling alcohol in the capital have little choice but to hang on for another 14 days. The Phnom Penh Capital Administration announced on Wednesday afternoon that its administrative measures were being extended through Thursday 7 October. By the time that day rolls around, it will have been eight weeks since alcohol could be served, or gatherings of more than 15 people could be held in Phnom Penh.

This week the Minister of Tourism told local airlines and hotels to get ready for a reopening “soon” for fully vaccinated tourists. It was a ray of hope for establishments around the Kingdom, especially in Phnom Penh, but hope turned to disappointment on Wednesday, when the capital’s alcohol and gathering bans were extended for two more weeks. The famous street of Bassac Lane, once a bustling area full of locals and foreigners partying and drinking, is now eerily quiet with most bars and restaurants temporarily closed. We asked some businesses owners how they are dealing with the latest extension:

“Actually my business is doing a little better than in general businesses, but still of course we are kind of suffering because we are not selling alcohol, so our takings are a little bit less than before. People of course are wanting gatherings and we are not allowing them to come, too many people into the restaurant. Two more weeks will be hard, but I hope Cambodia will sort this problem out because after Singapore, it’s the second highest vaccination campaign in Cambodia. So I hope everything will be fine soon.”

A bar owner told us though that he’s been struggling more with his finances. He just opened his new establishment, but will have to wait a few more weeks to see patrons coming in for a drink:

“It’s not easy, you know? We are having a difficult time. Not just me, but everyone, in the whole world… Here in Phnom Penh. We hope something is gonna be better, but now another two weeks again and again and again. For sure it’s really, I’m not happy about this. We are understanding because its Covid time but also struggling, because if we cannot fight about this, we cannot make our own thing. It’s gonna be more and more difficult. We have to do it. We wish they could finish extending every two weeks, two weeks. This is not fair for us. We are really not happy, but what we can do?”

The latest extension to the prohibition on alcohol and gatherings in the capital will expire on Thursday 7 October.

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