Cambodia, seemingly the last bastion of free travel in South-East Asia has now almost completely shut its borders.
This comes following the suspension last week of several cross-border activities between Cambodia and Vietnam. On Wednesday, Vietnam made the decision in light of the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
Thailand, and now Laos have now since followed suit citing COV-19 fears. It should be noted that Cambodia, along with Thailand was one of the few countries not to place restrictions on travel to and from China, Hong Kong, or Macao.
Travel by citizens between both countries – by road, water or air – was subsequently banned from 11:59 pm on Friday.
As stated by Lieutenant General Leang Phearom, Interior Ministry’s border protection police department chief;
“All the border crossings in 19 places, including the international border checkpoint with Thailand are closed. They are the international border checkpoints at Poipet-Banteay Meanchey, Phnom Chy-Battambang, O’Smach-Oddar Meanchey, Prum-Pailin; 15 regional border checkpoints in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey; and two districts border checkpoints in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey,” he said.
“All cross-border activities, including people movement, are affected but the exchange of goods at the international border checkpoints will be allowed after truck drivers are thoroughly screened for coronavirus,” Lt Gen Phearom added.
Officially the border closures will remain until April 5th, but much like similar closures in places like the Philippines, the date is very tentative, with its reopening being very much dependent on if the spread of the coronavirus has been stemmed.
Due to Cambodia being one the few countries left in South-East Asia not to have imposed restrictions and still having its entertainment venues open a number of tourists from surrounding areas have recently flooded into the country on one-month visas.
What will happen to these people, and if Cambodia will introduce Chinese style visa flexibility very much remains to be seen…..