Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng has urged vendors to run their businesses at markets as usual after some raised their concern over COVID-19.
Speaking at an event in Phnom Penh City Hall on Wednesday, Mr Sreng said the government has not closed the markets.
“If we shut down the markets, where will people find meat and vegetables for eating? This is the problem,” he said. “The government encourages vendors to run their business as usual.”
Mr Sreng also appealed to people not to panic buy and hoard essential items, adding they should not believe fake news that Phnom Penh will be under lockdown.
“Check all information from the Phnom Penh administration via the media and City Hall’s official Facebook page. Don’t believe any fake news over COVID-19,” he added.
Mr Sreng also said City Hall has a free hotline for the public to call and obtain information about the coronavirus and the situation in the capital.
Chan Sitha, a vendor in Kandal market, said she heard markets will close due to the virus spread.
“Every day, we depend on income from our sales in the market. We heard the government will close it, which will affect our business and livelihood,” she said.
Hour Rita, a vendor at O’Russey market, said she is worried over health issues connected with COVID-19 but she still comes to run her stalls in the market as usual.
“Since the spread of the virus, the market seems quiet as our customers are staying away. It really affects our business,” she said. “I am concerned about my health but I also have to run my business to support my family. I protect myself by wearing a mask and washing my hands regularly.”
Ros Sokim, Sihanoukville market director, said the authorities are not shutting down any market but are increasing promotion of hygiene and maintaining prices of goods despite the virus spread.
“We have told the vendors the market is not closed and to run their business as usual for their livelihood,” he said.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed the government will not shut down markets, factories and restaurants due to spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“Some local authorities have wrongly announced that markets, restaurants and coffee shop will be closed,” he said. “Don’t be confused because these businesses can run as usual. The government has only shut down places of large gatherings such as schools, KTVs, clubs and museums to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.