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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with www.e-malt.com Polish
14 April, 2021

Brewing news Cambodia: Alcohol sales continue despite ban

Phnom Penh City Hall’s announcement banning the sale of alcohol has led to a prohibition era-style culture of speakeasies and underground trafficking, the Khmer Times reported on April 14.

The Kingdom of Cambodia on April 13 announced that it would extend its curfew for another two weeks after an additional three people succumbed to Covid – bringing the number of fatalities to 33.

Municipal authorities said that it had banned the sale of alcohol two days before Khmer New Year festivities were set to begin because it had traced infections to people drinking together, an announcement read. On April 13, Kandal province joined the capital in the bans.

However, strolling through Phnom Penh and scrolling through Facebook reveals that the sale of alcohol remains unabated.

“Good afternoon, sure we can deliver until 7 pm. Let us know what you need, your delivery address and phone number, preferred payment method (ABA or cash on delivery),” one merchant said on Facebook Messenger just seconds after Khmer Times enquired if they would deliver alcohol.

Another business was deeply apologetic, saying they only offer European beers after a request was made to deliver Cambodia brand beer. Instead, the company offered a mini keg of Heineken for $25, plus an additional $2 for delivery. They too offered to deliver until 7 pm.

Several restaurants on social media have littered their posts with “winky face emojis” after noting that they are not serving alcohol. Three family-owned shops in Toul Tom Poung district discreetly agreed to sell cans of beer upon request.

A Phnom Penh resident speaking under the condition of anonymity told Khmer Times that drinking and spending time with loved ones is an important part of Khmer New Year festivity. He said that he and his friends spend the day-time with parents before retiring for the evening to drink and reminisce together – “If I can’t have one, I would at least like to have the other,” he said.

The resident added that he normally visits his family in Battambang province but this year was unable to do so. He said that he wished to remain anonymous as he did not want to get in trouble with the authorities but claimed that his fridge had been stocked prior to the ban.

“I agree with the government banning the sale of alcohol, but I don’t feel like I am hurting anyone by having a drink at home since I can’t visit my mother or father in the province,” he said.

As it was during prohibition in the US, the consumption of alcohol is not prohibited in Cambodia, however the sale is.

Yet, bars across the capital continue serving liquor. One offered a drink for takeaway in Toul Tom Poung, while another near Riverside requires that patrons knock on the door before gates are opened and poured a beer.

“My entire business model is to serve food and beer. COVID has already knocked the wind out of my sails and the last year was hell; now with the new wave of variants and infections here, 2021 isn’t looking so good either. I’m not serving alcohol but I can put myself in the shoes of those who are,” one business owner said.


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