Cambodia’s Angkor website was closed for 2 weeks to contain the coronavirus

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodia is closing its most popular tourist destination, the century-old temple complex in Angkor, to visitors for two weeks to help stem the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

The closure of the world-famous website is the latest in a series of measures the country is taking after the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in February.

The Apsara Authority, the government agency that oversees the archaeological site, said that temporarily preventing local and foreign tourists from visiting the temples is important in helping to fight the virus. The company said in a statement dated Wednesday that visitors are banned from April 7 to 20.

The Angkor site, in northwestern Siem Reap province, attracted 2.2 million foreign tourists in 2019, but suffered a sharp drop last year due to disruptions caused by the pandemic. Cambodia allows tourists to enter, but they must be quarantined.

The Ministry of Health on Thursday announced 113 new local cases of coronavirus and two deaths. Cambodia recorded a total of 3,028 cases, including 23 deaths.

The ministry tracked the latest outbreak to a foreign resident who broke quarantine at a hotel and went to a nightclub in early February. The government announced on February 20 the planned two-week closure of all public schools, cinemas, bars and entertainment venues in the capital, Phnom Penh.

With the increase in the number of cases, closures have been extended across the country to schools, gyms, concert halls, museums and other meeting places.

A defunct luxury hotel in the capital has been converted into a 500-room coronavirus hospital, and authorities are enforcing a new law that imposes criminal penalties for violating health rules.

The use of masks has become mandatory in Phnom Penh and in four of the most densely populated provinces in the country.

The government tightened other restrictions earlier this month, including a two-week curfew from 8 pm to 5 am in Phnom Penh.

It also expanded its vaccination campaign against coronavirus, targeting 1 million doses per month starting in April. By the end of March, some 400,000 people – about a third of them members of the armed forces – had received the vaccines.

By the end of March, Cambodia had acquired more than 3.1 million doses of vaccines from China and through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative. Cambodia has a population of around 17 million.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said this week on his social media channels that vaccinations are voluntary, but that civil servants and military are at risk of being fired if they are not vaccinated.