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Bar owners remain in the dark while some call quits

Harrison White / Khmer Times Share:
A popular bar area on 136 street in Phnom Penh that have been ordered closed by the Ministry of Health since March. KT / Pann Rachana

Hospitality groups continue to call on the government to provide an exit strategy from the lockdown of the Kingdom’s bars, clubs and KTV’s – so struggling owners can implement business plans, but some are deciding to quit.

The renewed call came after Thailand announced yesterday it will be allowing its bars, karaoke parlours and other entertainment venues to reopen in the fifth phase of loosening its COVID-19 restrictions, expected in July.

Khmer Times has been following the plight of local bar owners since the Ministry of Health told them to close in mid-March until the “situation of the COVID-19 eases”.

The Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine provided no new updates during her weekly media conference yesterday.

This publication has attempted to reach out to Or multiple times for further information on her statements.

However we are referred back to her original statements or simply receive no comment.

Khmer Times has also been monitoring the once-popular bar areas in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and has observed a significant increase in the number of businesses being listed for sale, with some business brokers now advertising “COVID-19 sales packages”. “[Our COVID-19 package is] $350 up-front (100 percent non-refundable) for listing [your bar] and $350 upon sale (when you get paid) assuming we are responsible for identifying and introducing you to the buyer of your business,” Asian Business Brokers advertises.

“We can’t promise you a good price right now and we can’t even promise you a sale, but we can offer to use our talents and resources and experience to list your business for sale, market it and hopefully get you a buyer so you can walk away with something rather than nothing,” it adds.

Well-known chef and Cambodia Tourism Federation representative, Luu Meng said his sector understands that while health is paramount, he urges the government to provide set dates and guidelines for businesses to eventually reopen.

“Set dates are needed because hotels and restaurants can take weeks to ensure they are properly staffed and stocked. The government should look to both Thailand and Vietnam because they have created set dates for the hospitality community,” he said to a business panel.

As of print the Ministry of Health has confirmed a total 130 cases in the Kingdom – of these cases, 127  (97.69) percent have already been cured successfully.

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