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Gov’t relaxes Covid-19 rules for industrial sector

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Garment workers clock out from factory in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Gov’t relaxes Covid-19 rules for industrial sector

The government gave the nod to a handful of requests from the private sector to mitigate some of the consequences of Covid-19 control measures felt at factories and manufacturing enterprises.

From June 11-16, four business associations independently submitted letters to the government appealing for reprieve from some of the strictest restrictions provided by the Action Plan on Measures to Control Covid-19 at Factories and Enterprises in Phnom Penh, handled by the municipal administration.

These were the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA), Cambodia Footwear Association (CFA) and Japanese Business Association of Cambodia (JBAC).

On July 9, a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 approved a number of the points outlined in letters, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

In a letter dated July 16 and signed by minister Aun Pornmoniroth, the finance ministry said the government has lifted quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated workers and other employees at industrial businesses who have had potential indirect exposure to SARS-CoV-2 but exhibit no symptoms of Covid-19.

The government will continue to bear the costs of Covid-19 rapid antigen testing, should a cluster outbreak occur at a factory or manufacturing enterprise, the ministry said.

It added that the government would also assume the full responsibility for the care and treatment of Covid-19 patients.

GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo asserted that the government had greenlit the requests that would optimally contribute to the recovery of the industrial sector.

He told The Post: “Some requests were agreed … the most important of which is the confirmation that all treatment costs would be borne by the government and that the government will also bear all testing costs in the case of outbreaks at enterprises.

“The government has allowed all private enterprises to conduct rapid tests at their own expense and also made available such rapid test kits at a very low price. This will give us more tools to better manage the pandemic and allow early detection and contact tracing in the event of any positive cases.”

Cambodia Footwear Association president Ly Kunthai said the government was attentive to the appeals of industry players in its decision-making, seeking to ease their burden during these trying times.

“We’ve now obtained solutions from the government that will help us, as factories grin and bear a wide range issues during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Cambodia exported $2.410 billion worth of garments, footwear and travel goods in the first quarter of this year, shrinking 6.48 per cent from the $2.577 billion posted in the corresponding period of 2020, according to data from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia.

Analysed by category, garments fell 6.43 per cent from $1.897 to $1.775 billion, footwear slumped 7.33 per cent from $341 to $316 million, and travel goods – including suitcases, backpacks, handbags and wallets – declined 5.89 per cent from $339 to $319 million.

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