Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

O’Russei Market Closed; 100 vehicles confiscated during curfew

Healthcare workers disinfect the roads in front of O’Russei market, which was closed after vendors and security guards tested positive for COVID-19, in Phnom Penh, April 5, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
Healthcare workers disinfect the roads in front of O’Russei market, which was closed after vendors and security guards tested positive for COVID-19, in Phnom Penh, April 5, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

More than 100 motorbikes and cars were confiscated from people violating Phnom Penh’s COVID-19 curfew over the past three days and O’Russei Market was shut down and 5,000 vendors sent for testing on Sunday after vendors and security tested positive for the disease, officials said.

Some vendors from Phsar Chas – or Old Market – in Daun Penh district were also called to provide samples after one tested positive, though the market remains open as of Monday evening, officials said.

Motorists who violated the curfew – implemented for 14 days from April, between the hours of 5am and 8pm – were ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days, officials said, noting a sharp decrease in violations on Sunday night following heavy crack downs on Friday and Saturday.

“According to the Phnom Penh governor’s principle, when they finished the quarantine for 14 days, they can go back to take their vehicles and motorbikes,” Phnom Penh police spokesman Sok Seiha said, adding that a total of 138 motorbikes and 27 cars had been impounded.

“We want to see every night no vehicle or motorbikes confiscated; it means that every night there are no violators and they respect the curfew 100 percent,” he said.

On Sunday, O’Russei market was shut down for fourteen days, with some vendors and security guards among the tally of COVID-19 cases, which stands at 2222 related to the February 20 outbreak and 2752 overall, officials said.  

Security has been deployed to guard the market as it is disinfected, Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng said in an announcement Saturday.

“This situation spreads through many stalls in different parts of the market,” Sreng said, adding that the market will reopen on April 17.

With vendors locked out, Phnom Penh city administration guaranteed the safety and security of all non-perishable goods inside the market, with fees to be waived during the period, the statement added.

“Now, my police forces guard the market to keep it safe and secure so that no bad people steal equipment or goods, O’Russei commune police chief Thorng Marady told CamboJA, adding that the market had been disinfected on Sunday.

Hort Vanthy, chief of the market’s administration, said that about 5,000 vendors had been sent for COVID-19 tests after three vendors tested positive for the virus.

Uon Ngim, who has been selling souvenirs at the market for more than ten years, said she heard of the infections on the ground floor in the market on April 1 and closed her stall on the first floor that day.

“It affects our living because we do not have income when the market is closed,” Ngim said.

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Prampi Makara district governor Lim Sophea declined to comment.

Soeng Senkaruna, spokesman for rights group Adhoc, said that the impounding of vehicles was harsh and that the 14-day quarantine imposed upon drivers was not contained in a sub-decree issued last week to help stem the pandemic.

“Not everyone is involved with COVID-19,” he said, calling for more careful application of the rules, which could lose to lost income for families – or to supplement losses.

“I think that the government should think about the citizens.”

The Health Ministry’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 21, it said in a statement Monday, with a Cambodian woman and a Chinese man added on April 3 and April 4, respectively.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine confirmed via telegram on Monday that 418,569 people had now been vaccinated for the coronavirus.

The curfew in Phnom Penh is in place until April 14.

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