All vehicles caught travelling in Phnom Penh in violation of the newly imposed two-week, 8pm-5am curfew will be impounded, according to a directive issued by governor Khuong Sreng on April 1.
The order came on the heels of a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen authorising municipal and provincial governors to take Covid-19 preventive measures such as travel restrictions and curfew at their discretion.
In an audio message, Sreng ordered that police only impound the vehicles of offenders without detaining them.
“We take their cars or motorcycles first. Then we allow them to self-quarantine at homes for 14 days before returning their vehicles. But in case the authorities find that they do not follow instructions, we will enforce punitive measures,” he said.
The curfew bans all unnecessary travel or activities outside the home from 8pm to 5am, though there are exemptions for those travelling to and from work, food deliveries and other activities deemed essential.
The governor’s directive includes a temporary suspension of non-essential business activities. Restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses that provide food or drinks can stay open – but only for deliveries or take-aways.
All public gatherings are forbidden, except among family members living in the same home. Funeral rites can be held if permitted by the local authorities. Covid-19 sample collections and emergency services will continue to operate as normal.
Authorities such as police and administrative officials who are mobilising to perform their duties or to maintain public security and order are granted an exception, as are gatherings such as meetings between officials that serve the public interest, according to the directive.
Chea Samneang, a resident of Chbar Ampov I commune in Chbar Ampov district, supported the measures. He said the curfew could contribute significantly to ending the February 20 community outbreak, which has seen cases rise to 1,949 with 726 recoveries as of April 1.
“These rules are not violating anyone’s human rights, they are a community effort that everyone must participate in to serve the greater good. I think this curfew is necessary under the current circumstances because the transmission situation has become very serious,” he said.
The heightened restrictions in Phnom Penh – including the curfew and ban on gatherings – will remain in effect for at least two weeks starting April 1, after which the situation will be re-evaluated.
Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang said on April 1 he was still considering whether to impose a curfew. He said in his province there are many people who work the night shift and he will have to thoroughly assess the situation first.
“I may start enforcing curfew from April 2 or 3, but the [Covid-19] situation in Kampong Speu is not quite as bad as it is in Phnom Penh. The province can avoid these challenges if we are united in following the Ministry of Health’s guidance,” he said.
As of April 1, Cambodia had recorded a total of 2,477 Covid-19 cases with 1,217 receiving ongoing treatment and 16 confirmed deaths from the diseases.