Business activities, especially tourism-related services, have started to see the impact of the fear of a potential second wave of COVID-19.
Chun Leap, the owner of Romdul Bokor restaurant in Phnom Penh, said her business had seen some recovery in the last few months but that now it was back to where it was six months ago, when she was forced to close for a month.
“Within just a few days of 900 people being reported as exposed directly and indirectly [to COVID-19] during the Hungarian Foreign Minister’s visit, business dropped suddenly by close to 70 percent,” she said. “We suffered during the first phase and now a possible second wave could bring the business down again.”
Leap noted that more than 1,000 people tested negative, so the situation should return to normal over the next two months.
Heng Sengly, managing director of the restaurant chain Park Cafe, said since the outbreak of COVID-19 seemed to be under control he was hopeful that a possible second wave of COVID-19 would be manageable as well.
“This fear will definitely affect the business in general and here at the Park Cafe. That’s why we need to adhere to the “new normal” as defined by the Ministry of Health in terms of hygiene precautions and temperature testing,” he said. “If the second wave emerges, it will be more serious than the first phase so strong measures must be taken in controlling it.”
He said Park Cafe has seen a decline in sales but it is too early to judge whether this is the result of the current situation.
“Sales moved downwards at the same time of the new cases emerging but we cannot draw a direct line to it as to whether it is related to COVID fear”. He added that food delivery services may well boom again as they did during the first wave when people chose to stay at home and order food and goods using their smartphones.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that if testing reveals more positive cases, it will be seen as an indicator that businesses could begin failing again.
“It is a serious concern because the situation has just eased and the government is actively promoting local tourism,” she said. “We are preparing events for the year-end to boost the tourism sector as well as the implementation of travel bubbles.”
The threat of a second phase
of COVID-19 emerging has tourism-based business already declining. We could be facing the closure of related businesses as well if things start getting worse.”
“The government has ordered the closure of some entertainment services including KTV clubs and cinemas, leaving workers at those establishments jobless once again. COVID-19 has already left thousands unemployed in the tourism industry after businesses closed for good during the first phase,” Sivlin said.
“People who had come back to work will be left once again with no daily/monthly income. Workers were happy but now the worst seems to be happening again. This is the crisis,” she said.