When will lockdown in Phnom Penh? end?With the global COVID-19 pandemic causing an almost 98 percent drop in global travel in 2020, countries that rely on tourism such as Cambodia took a particular hit. Hotels, restaurants and bars among other businesses inevitably closed, but in contrast to other countries, Cambodia managed to keep COVID infections at bay, which resulted in a new kind of normal prevailing.
To read about how normal life was in Phnom Penh click here
Lockdown in Phnom Penh 2020
After the initial lockdowns of 2020, entertainment venues were slowly allowed to reopen, many landlords reduced rents to businesses and for a while at least Cambodia seemed to exist in a COVID-19 bubble. While other countries were going through lockdowns and intense social distancing, life in the Kingdom remained largely normal in comparison to the rest of the planet.
People stuck here on tourist visas (estimated at around 71,000) were allowed to stay in the country and the food and drinks industry managed to largely weather the storm. Many entrepreneurs even took advantage of the cheap rent situation by setting up new establishments, something not generally seen in other parts of the world. Then the February 20th Community Outbreak occurred and everything slowly began to change.
To read about the February 20th Community Outbreak click here
Phnom Penh lockdown AND alcohol ban
On April 11th restaurants were forced to offer take-out, or delivery service only, which was followed by a lockdown and a complete alcohol ban in the city. While the reasoning for this is well understood and has done a lot to stem the spread of the virus, it has left establishments that only serve alcohol without any source of income, as well as leaving restaurants that can stay open completely reliant on delivery apps.
I spoke to Miss Hoonie Lim, the co-owner of Margarita Cocktail bar which is in TPP, who told me that because they had not yet put a menu together, they were essentially screwed without food. Booze + alcohol ban = no income.
Are there too many food delivery apps?
Whilst Nham24 and food panda are the most well known of the apps, there is a balmy 8 different food apps servicing Phnom Penh alone. This usually means them all fighting each other for business, usually to the detriment of the restaurants, those being the ones having foot the commission bills.
The difficult in dealing with food delivery apps
I know from my brief period helping out at Jungle Cat, Phnom Penh that it is not easy going out there. Food Panda for example make you upload your pictures to VERY specific parameters, this literally takes hours and hours. Nham24 on the other hand literally give you no control, you send everything to them and then they add things in their own time. As for the others? Some re useful if they happen to have a specific deal on, from a customer point of view at least is great, but for restaurants just spreads an already thin market thinner, but also adds a shit tonne more admin. Restaurants really don’t need doing non-stop computer work.
But without them much of the city would not have been able to eat (learn to cook) and restaurants would not have survived
When will lockdown in Phnom Penh end then?
That is the 4 million dollar question, when will the lockdown end and when can we legally drink again. Alcohol by coincidence, rather than through any smart choices I personally have given up alcohol for the time being.
As things stand it is very hard to say, the government have mooted dates, such as the 24th, but a lot will depend on how things go in the next few weeks. The government are officially at least trying to vaccinate us all (I am yet to receive mine) and sadly drinkers make bad choices (I am living proof of that).
So for now, we wait, patiently.