Two new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cambodian have revived the fear of a “second wave” of the virus affecting local businesses – many of which had just begun to reopen over the past month.
In response, Prime Minister Hun Sen has advised the public, yet again, to stay away from crowded places to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 infection and to avoid any unnecessary travel.
While local health officials have maintained orders for some businesses to remain closed such as nightclubs, KTVs, beer gardens, wellness centres, casinos and gyms to contain the pandemic spread.
An Chanthla, owner of Romdul Bokor restaurant, which has just reopened after closing for two months, said that his business is now “getting better” after reopening for two weeks.
“We are getting more customers and gradually increasing sales since we reopened in early May,” he said. However, he has also expressed concern that if he is forced to close again, from a second wave of the virus, the business will go bankrupt.
“When the government reported these new cases, I did not feel secure and if the number of cases keeps increasing, my business cannot afford toreopen again. We are also afraid of the infection and we don’t want our staff to take the risk,” Chanthla added.
Lim Heng, vice-president of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said that the government is urging people to pay more attention to contain a potential second wave of the virus.
“We need to continue to fight against the COVID-19 virus and also operate our businesses at the same time with high attention,” he said, noting that more businesses should return to normal operations after Cambodia recently cleared all COVID-19 patients.
“I believe that business owners are happy as the situation continue to ease. At least business owners can cover the cost of operating their stores, even if they cannot profit,” he said.
He also said the report of new cases would reduce the rebound of business sentiment among investors as well.
“As a public institution the CCC has received a lot of requests from members asking for help during the COVID-19 pandemic such as tourism-based restaurants and especially businesses associations from abroad,” he added.
He said, requests made by the private sector to the CCC have been seeking forms of exemptions and incentives. “We have submitted these to the Ministry of Economy and Finance and we have already had a meeting on the issue to check the scale of impact,” he said.
“Businesses want the CCC to help and intervene with the government to reduce the withholding tax of 14 percent and we are talking about this with the General Department of Taxation now,” he said.
During this pandemic, the government has already announced some exemptions, such as reducing electricity tariffs and issuing loans for SMEs.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.