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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia is lifting its mask mandate for open public places, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Tuesday.

He cited a large decline in coronavirus cases and a high level of vaccinations in dropping the requirement nationwide.

He said in an audio message on his Facebook page that it is still mandatory to wear masks in indoor public areas, especially air-conditioned buildings and crowded places such as theaters. He said it was up to individuals to decide whether they want to wear masks outdoors.

“I hope that the lifting of the mask-wearing requirement will create a moment of happiness for all our people, and at the same time help them save money by using what they had been paying for masks to instead buy clothing for their children,” he said, speaking after an inter-ministerial meeting to evaluate the COVID-19 situation.

Hun Sen strongly encouraged Cambodians to get booster doses, saying about 6.4 million people still have not received a third, or booster, vaccination.

Hun Sen also said he is considering providing a fifth vaccine dose to front-line workers.

For their first two doses, many Cambodians received Chinese-made Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, which are generally seen as less effective against the omicron variant.

More than 93% of Cambodia’s population has received at least one vaccination and more than 88% has received two, according to government statistics.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday reported two new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no new fatalities, bringing the nation’s total to 136,230 confirmed cases, including 3,056 deaths, since the pandemic began.

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