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Business says new rules akin to a travel ban

Harrison White / Khmer Times Share:
Foreigners arriving at Phnom Penh International Airport last month before strict new quarantine measures were implemented this week. KT/Pann Rachana

Local businesses have reacted with confusion over the new “expensive and strict” fixed-price quarantine requirements, announced by the Ministry of Economy and Finance this week.

New requirements will force all newly arrived foreigners to pay a set fee for their COVID-19 lab tests, quarantine, treatment services and cremation (if they die as a result of the virus).

The new policy has no end date.

The Ministry of Health previously prided itself on stating, “It would provide free medical treatment for COVID-19 positive victims despite their nationalities.”

Khmer Times spoke to a local business owner who outlined that the “expensive and strict” requirements will prevent the large majority of people from wanting to visit Cambodia now and possibly in the future.

He implied that the requirements were akin to a travel ban.

“The idea that you would have to potentially spend thousands of dollars and two weeks in isolation even if you are free of COVID-19 will mean 95 percent of people will just not come.”

“For the five percent that do want to come, either because their family lives here or they have a business for example, will now not be able to access flights – because airlines won’t have enough passengers to fil their planes.”

According to the letter issued by the Ministry of Health even if a foreign visitor test negative for the virus, but if another passenger on their flight tests positive, the traveler will be forced to spend 14 days in state run isolation at a cost of $1,276.

If the foreign visitor themselves tests positive then they will be forced to a government selected hospital at $225 per day and $100 for each required virus test, another $1,500 will be applicable for cremation if the foreigner dies.

Many have stated that these costs could be claimed though the insurance as travelers will continue to require $50,000 worth of travel insurance before they enter the Kingdom.

However, Khmer Times attempted to book travel insurance for a trip from Australia to Cambodia and was advised that any events that arise when you travel against any government travel bans or “Do No Travel” warnings all claims are instantly void.

“Do Not Travel” bans are currently in place for the large majority of nations around the world.

In response to the extreme drop in foreign tourist arrivals, the Ministry of Tourism has attempted to promote domestic tourists to visit the Kingdom through implementing new hygiene polices and training for those working in the industry.

That said, Khmer Times has previously spoken to the president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Thoun Sinan, who said the sector remained strongly dependent on international tourists.

“Local tourists will not be sustainable in the long-term for the whole industry after COVID-19 ends because Cambodian people are getting less money as the economy falters.”

“Local tourists could not restore the sector to normal. It might help to some extent but now our people are losing revenue because of COVID-19.”

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