Armenia lifts most emergency restrictions - people allowed to leave the house, even go to cafes
By the decision of the commandant’s office, the restriction on free movement in Armenia will be lifted on May 4 and most businesses will be permitted to resume working.
With this in mind, all residents of the country are urged to adhere to sanitary standards and rules that will prevent them from contracting and spreading and the virus.
Deputy Prime Minister and commandant during the state of emergency Tigran Avinyan wrote on his Facebook page that people can now go to work, and even eat at cafes, but that if the situation takes a turn for the worst, the severe restrictions will once again be imposed.
Armenia declared a state of emergency on March 16, which will be in effect until May 14. This means that most of the restrictions will be lifted before the end of the quarantine.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in the country continues to grow. There have been several days in the past couple of weeks when Armenia reported more than a hundred new cases of infection in a 24-hour period.
A Ministry of Health report from May 4 states that between May 3-4, the number of cases rose by 121, bringing the total to 2507. 1071 patients have recovered, and 1393 continue to receive treatment. Four more patients succumbed to the virus, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths in the country to 39. Another four coronavirus patients died from unrelated diseases.
- What’s it like to get coronavirus – from an Armenian couple who’ve been there and back
- Georgia – is mass testing necessary?
What is permitted, what is prohibited
The restriction on free movement has been lifted. This means that citizens no longer need to fill out a “travel form” before leaving the house, whereas they used to be required to write where they came from, where they were going, how long they would be there, and when they planned to return.
As for businesses, on May 4, restrictions on retail and wholesale trade have also been lifted. While before, only grocery stores remained open, now all businesses excluding large shopping centers and department stores are permitted to resume operations.
All businesses in the processing industry, including textile, furniture and shoe companies, will reopen.
The outdoor patio areas of restaurants and cafes are now open, but it is still prohibited to serve customers indoors.
Gyms are reopening, but only for professional athletes.
Dry cleaners, beauty salons, hairdressers
and car washes will also reopen.
All work in the sphere of information and communication is now permitted.
Public transport will remain closed for now. This ban remains in place because epidemiologists say that “there are still certain risks associated with the spread of the virus.”
Given the fact that most of the country’s residents will return to work on May 4, the lack of public transport may be a big problem. This means that people will have to commute to work either in their personal cars, or in a taxi.
All businesses returning to work must comply with the mandatory standards developed by the commandant’s office. In case of violation, strict sanctions will be applied.
The commandant says that the government plans to strengthen control over compliance assurance:
“The easing of restrictions does not mean that the pandemic threat has passed. This is an attempt to adapt to the new living conditions. Therefore, at this stage, the individual, social and corporate responsibility of each of us is very important. This is a unique test of how disciplined and conscious we are.”
Tigran Avinyan emphasized that if the situation gets worse, a decision will be made to return to severe restrictions
The government switches to a decentralized fight against COVID-19
The Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, the Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan and the Deputy Prime Minister and commandant during the state of emergency Tigran Avinyan discussed further steps in the fight against the spread of coronavirus during their “casual meeting” on May 3.
During this conversation, which was broadcast live, the Prime Minister’s main statement was this:
“We are beginning the decentralized fight against COVID-19.”
Pashinyan says that the commandant’s office will continue its work, but that responsibility will now shift to the citizens themselves.
“The new period we are entering depends heavily on the personal responsibility of citizens and businesses. We also have punitive measures that will be applied in case of irresponsibility,” said the commandant.
The Minister of Health also touched on the issue of the rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases in recent days. In his opinion, this is due to increased mobility of citizens, as well as the spread of infection in specific outbreak areas. At the same time, the number of severe cases has also increased.
“As of today, there are 65 coronavirus patients in serious condition and 35 in critical condition, 9 of which are on ventilators, but this does not yet pose a big burden for the healthcare system,” said Arsen Torosyan.
Chief pathologist in Yerevan and President of the Association of Pathologists Armen Mkhitaryan considers the commandant’s decision to be unwarranted, since there is a risk of an even greater rise in the number of infections. In his opinion, the decision to ease the quarantine measures would only be justified if Armenia had already reached the peak of the infection curve. But there is no information about this yet.
“We will only overcome the virus 100% when we have developed a herd immunity, the human body is able to form antibodies to combat the virus…We can’t say what percentage of the population in Armenia is immune, because in order to gain this information, we would need to test the entire population, and we do not yet have the resources to do so,” the expert believes.
Mkhitaryan says that the only reason the quarantine was effective was because it flattened the curve, allowing the health system to cope with the serious cases.
Commentary on social media
The government’s decision to lift restrictions is also being discussed on social networks.
Here are some of the comments:
“This is a unique test…And did you not understand that to a certain extent, you have failed this test? What is the point of tightening measures further after this failure?”
“The police never stopped me and or asked to see my travel form. All this time, everyone has been walking around outside, talking with friends, gathering to play football and backgammon, having barbecues. In other words, the measures taken in the last month have yielded absolutely no results. It’s a shame, but you have very little power.”
“It’s too hasty. We should wait at least a couple of weeks. I feel bad for the doctors.”
“A better decision would be to start up public transport so that the employees working at these businesses can commute. After all, they have to get to work somehow. Public transport is shut down, their only option is to take a taxi. Where is the logic?”
“So you waited for the number of new infections to increase before lifting the restrictions? Great plan! A disaster awaits us in the next 30 days. And the fact that the number of infections has been increasing recently only shows how ineffective your quarantine was in the first place!”