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Khmer New Year at Siem Reap’s pub street having a new lease of life

Jason Boken / Khmer Times Share:
A much livelier pub street on Tuesday night. KT/Jason Boken

Businesses on Pub Street, Siem Reap, which closed early on the first night of celebrations during the re-scheduled Khmer New Year reopened for business yesterday, August 18 which added security and health measures being strictly enforced.

On the opening night of the holidays, Monday, August 17, fears of COVID-19 and police shutdowns saw bars and restaurants put their beloved businesses back to bed much earlier than normal, partly due to overwhelming crowds.

At 11:30pm, Monday 17th of August, Pub Street was closed down due to heavy crowds and worries of the Novel Coronavirus.

On Tuesday, August 18, a meeting was held with the areas local business owners. The meeting consisted of a list of further precautions that would be put in place in order to not repeat what had happened the previous night.

Precautions were a lot stricter on night two of the holidays, extra tents were put into place with face masks available and staff were spread throughout the area to police people not wearing them.

Social distancing measures were also being adhered to, seats and booths were blocked out to keep distance between revellers.

Furthermore, only 4 entrances to Pub Street were accessible, police barricaded any other way into the renowned party spot.

Mr Neak Neron, Deputy Governor of Siem Reap said: “We have worked closely with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Patrons of bars in Siem Reap want to party and have fun but if we allow that, the place could become an epicentre that spreads the virus. We will be held responsible and it will have serious ramifications.”

Mr Neron did however say that bars and restaurants in the area could stay open until 12:00 midnight. “At 11pm, businesses have to stop taking orders and stop selling and be ready to close at 12:00 midnight. If they don’t do what we have told them to, we will close them down and they won’t be allowed to open anything,” he went on to say.

Well known since the early 1990s after large numbers of tourists flocked to Cambodia, Pub Street has brought in much needed business from tourists looking to eat and drink after a day of trekking through the temples of Angkor Wat.

The tourism sector this year though went into a downward spiral due to the COVID-19 pandemic and borders being closed. Some businesses have even had to shut up shop for good.

The newly planned Khmer New Year dates did however show a glimmer of hope to the once thriving area.

In the anticipation of domestic tourism pumping back some well needed revenue back over the holidays, establishments geared up to serve customers from around the Kingdom.

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