Armenia: residents may soon be able to go to hair salon, eat at outdoor cafes
Armenians may soon be able to visit beauty salons, outdoor cafes and more businesses will open up soon if the infection rate does not rise unexpectedly in the coming days, Armenian Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan announced earlier today.
A state of emergency was declared on March 16 in Armenia, and will remain into effect until May 14, but may be softened as the country gets more of a handle on containing the coronavirus.
More information about the expected changes and an evaluation of major achievements in the fight against coronavirus – by the government itself, as well as experts.
- Armenian gov’t continues to ease state of emergency restrictions
- Armenia: forecasts for business and the economy amid the state of emergency
Restrictions soon to be lifted
The commandant stated that the low intensity of the spread of the virus means that “some restrictions can already be lifted.” In particular, this refers to the likelihood that restrictions on the service sector will be lifted starting May 4. Hairdressers will be permitted to go back to work in compliance with certain safety requirements.
Soon after that, as Tigran Avinyan noted, cafes with open-air patio sections will be able to resume operations, followed by indoor food establishments.
Within the next 10 days, many businesses and organizations will return to work.
As for public transport, the commandant is going to return to this issue only in mid-May, since epidemiologists say that this is where the risk of spreading infection is highest.
At the same time, the commandant warns:
“We are a little cautious with our predictions. And if we see a strong outbreak, we can go back to stringent restrictions…Overall, we bought the time we needed to prepare the healthcare system and make it so that we are able to treat several thousand infected people simultaneously.”
This announcement about further easing of quarantine restrictions comes following three prior announcements and consequent lifting of state of emergency restrictions in Armenia.
On April 14, restrictions on construction work and the processing industry were lifted. On April 23, even more businesses were given the opportunity to work, namely printing, stone processing, metal fabrication and machine repair, as well as service centers for mobile and internet operators. On April 28, restrictions on the movement of citizens were partially lifted.
While before, it was only possible to leave the house in case of emergency, now citizens are able to go for walks and ride bikes, although they must not travel more than a kilometer away from the house. Previously, family members were only permitted to leave the house together when accompanying an elderly person in need of support. Now they are able to go out for strolls in pairs.
What to expect from the commandant’s office
The commandant says that the fight against coronavirus will be a long process. In this regard, he urges people to continue adhering to social distance and hygiene recommendations, and to continue wearing masks and gloves in certain situations:
“This will lead to overall behavioral changes in society, which, yes, will become the new norms we adhere to during difficult times. I am certain that we will learn many lessons during this process.”
As for the economy, the Deputy Prime Minister says that Armenia is not the only country expected to face problems. Tourism is suffering losses, and the sector on the whole considering the possibility of modifying the current system. The commandant believes that “this is something the public administration system should also start thinking about.”
The state of emergency created urgent problems and forced the government to make several quick reforms. In particular, there has been a reform in the field of online services.
More specifically, the government has developed more than a dozen anti-crisis programs in which citizens can receive financial support from the state. And now people are able to check whether they have the right to use government aid without leaving their homes or standing in line at government buildings. To do so, just go to ssa.am and enter your data.
“Further development of digital services is on our list of priorities,” said Tigran Avinyan.
The government working in conjunction with scientists
This situation has also strengthened relations between the government and scientists.
“The scientific community has helped us quite a bit in modeling the spread of infection, and we made informed decisions based on the models and conclusions made by Armenian scientists,” said the commandant.
The Institute of Molecular Biology is starting to produce diagnostic tests using raw materials purchased by the state. In the near future, Armenia is expected to begin producing ventilators as well.
“The Ministry of High-Tech Industry has formed a proposal which we are using as a framework to allocate state funds. We expect to have five prototypes of mechanical ventilation devices manufactured in Armenia within the next four months, and then we will begin mass production of 40-60 devices per month,” stated the Deputy Prime Minister.
This, in his opinion, will help local companies enter the international market.
Not all experts are impressed by the list of achievements made by the government in the fight against coronavirus.
In particular, political commentator Yervand Bozoyan believes that Armenia is one of the least effective countries in the region in terms of combating the virus and helping the population.
“The same issues that we are seeing all around the world will affect us as well. This virus has flipped the situation in Armenia on its head. Many of us are still not taking the situation in Armenia seriously, but this may happen in the span of 2-3 months,” believes the expert.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance Atom Janjugazyan assures people that not a single citizen affected by the coronavirus epidemic will be ignored. He states that even unregistered workers, who have so far been left out of assistance programs developed by the government, will be helped.
“The government is simply discussing the criteria for assessing a citizen as a victim and the type of support they will receive,” announced the minister said during a parliament meeting.