Azerbaijan mulling relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in coming days
Azerbaijan may lift several COVID-19 regulations in the coming days, however, the country will not yet be returning to pre-pandemic life in the near future.
Yagut Karaeva, head of the department of the Association for the Management of Medical Territorial Departments (TƏBIB) told Az TV channel AzTV that the partial lifting of some of the regulations is already being discussed and the final decision on them may be announced in the coming days.
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The TƏBİB spokeswoman noted that the new decision on the existing regulations may refer to the mandatory wearing of a mask in public places and on the street, a ban on weddings, commemorations, and other public events, or a ban on the use of public transport.
Will the quarantine regime be extended?
Since March 2020, a quarantine regime has been imposed in Azerbaijan due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and was later extended up to June 1, 2021. In a few days, this regime will expire and its next extension is expected to be announced together with the partial lifting of other restrictions. However, authorities made no such announcement so far.
Nevertheless, some restrictions have already been lifted. From May 17, secondary schools in Baku and other large cities and regions of the country have switched to in-class education.
Azerbaijani people welcome the easing of COVID-19 restrictions
A number of restrictions and prohibitions in Azerbaijan have already lasted for over a year. As the summer heat approaches, the issue of wearing face masks in the open air is becoming more relevant. Many people say that breathing in such weather is already difficult and becomes impossible while wearing a mask. Recently, a campaign has been launched on social media with the hashtag # nəfəsalaq (# let’s breathe).
Restrictions on the operation of public transport also remain in force. Since October 2020, the main form of public transport, the subway, has not functioned in Baku, while buses only operate during the weekdays.
Starting from March 2020, all public events, including weddings and commemorations, are prohibited in the country. For the Azerbaijani society, which attaches great importance to traditions, this has become one of the most difficult restrictions to abide by. From time to time, local media reports the prevention of attempts to hold secret weddings and memorial events, following which people are fined for non-compliance with quarantine measures.
Therefore, Yagut Karaeva’s announcement of the partial lifting of regulations was greeted with great joy, and many shared their hopes and expectations on social media.
“Thank God, we will be able to breathe freely in the fresh air. And public transport will start working. I am so tired of sitting at home during weekends because I do not have enough money for a taxi. And, it seems, I can finally get married. The restrictions are canceled. Hurray!”, one of the users posted on Facebook.
When will life return to normal in Azerbaijan?
The decision on easing the restrictions will depend on the epidemiological situation in the country, and whether the number of infected people will decrease and the number of vaccinated people will increase, the representative of TƏBİB added: “Only then it will be possible to talk about returning to normal”, said Yagut Karaeva, noting that the idea of “normal life” will never be the same.
“Everyone should understand that vaccination is very important … I call on everyone: do not be afraid of the vaccine. Think, compare, and choose which one is better but keep in mind that this disease comes with life-long health complications, so which one is better: to live with damaged lungs, or to be vaccinated twice? What harm can it do? Everyone must be vaccinated so that we can get rid of this virus”, Karaeva addressed the citizens.
In recent days, the number of daily infections with coronavirus has decreased in Azerbaijan, meaning that the number of recovering patients already exceeds the number of infected by two times. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 331,477 people have been infected in Azerbaijan, 318,502 people have recovered, 4,828 people have died.
The operational headquarters for combating coronavirus under the Cabinet of Ministers of the country report that the number of people vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine has already reached 1,068,493 people, while a total of 823,210 people have already received both doses of the vaccine.