Angkor Wat, Cambodia (Photo: Bangkok Herald)
Angkor Wat, Cambodia (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

Cambodia has ended all quarantine for travelers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in a bid to revive an economy crushed by the pandemic.

The quarantine waiver went into effect Monday and will applies to all, including those currently in quarantine and tested negative for the disease. However, those who have not been vaccinated are required to do a polymerase chain reaction test and spend 14 days in isolation.

Insurance with US$50,000 coverage is still required for all travelers as is a PCR test before arrival and an antigen test upon arrival. But unlike Thailand’s “Test & Go” lie, Cambodia didn’t stoop to the farcical level of requiring a night in a quarantine hotel for “no quarantine” arrivals.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said quarantine was no longer necessary for people arriving by land, sea and air after authorities vaccinated 88 percent of the country’s 16 million people. However, Covid-19 rapid tests will still be required upon arrival.

“You just need to wait 15-20 minutes for the rapid test results and then you can continue your journey to any place across the entire country with no limitations, however you wish,” he said in a televised address.

“This policy will be applied without discrimination to everyone, whether they are Cambodian people who are living or traveling abroad and returning home, or foreign tourists or investors. This applies to everyone equally.”

The policy is clearly aimed at, among other things, resurrecting the country’s once-lucrative international tourist industry.

The government has estimated the pandemic cost six million Cambodian jobs and sources say the government will focus on boosting tourism from countries that require only short-haul flights, such as Japan, South Korea, China and other Southeast Asian countries.

However, travel overland via its immediate neighbors — Thailand, Laos and Vietnam — could prove difficult. All three countries are yet to rein in the pandemic due to a slow rollout of their respective vaccination programs.

Cambodia began opening up to a “new normal” on Nov. 1 with a gradual easing of health restrictions designed to curb the pandemic after daily case numbers plummeted below 70. But the death rate still remains high.

Of the 84 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the first half of November, 29 people were vaccinated.

The World Health Organization’s representative in Cambodia, Li Ailan, remains cautious.

“We need to be even more careful and responsible, and make correct choices based on the local situation and context,” she told the government-friendly Khmer Times.

“Meanwhile, we all need to be ready for expected or unexpected possible consequences of our choices as there is no zero risk. We are learning how to manage risks every day.”

Meanwhile, the health ministry has issued a list of 20 Covid-19 vaccinations that it does recognize among travelers to Cambodia.

“With this decision, I hope that Cambodian people who are returning from abroad are not worried about any [quarantine requirements] any longer,” Hun Sen said. “I hope our compatriots enjoy our reopening. It is widely due to the country having achieved such an outstanding rate of vaccination.”

This story first appeared in UCA News, a Bangkok Herald partner.