EU opens borders to Georgia, while Georgia’s remain closed
The Council of the European Union has included Georgia in the list of 15 countries to which the EU will open its borders. This list will be updated every two weeks. It is advisory in nature, and each EU state will decide for itself which tourists from which list to accept and which not.
The Czech Republic decided not to keep its border open to Georgian citizens. Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said that the country will open its borders once Georgia decides to do the same for Czech citizens.
Since Georgia does not intend to open its borders, resume air traffic and ease the mandatory epidemiological requirements for tourists until August 1, the Czech Republic is responding in kind. In addition, the minister says that the Czech authorities do not want the country’s citizens to have to pass highly-involved coronavirus tests when crossing borders.
The list of 15 countries the EU consider safe also included Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.
Those left off the list included the USA, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and others.
In the Georgian government’s anti-crisis plan, the tourist season was originally supposed to start on July 1. At the same time, the authorities intended to take the EU’s position on this issue into account. Nevertheless, even when the epidemiological situation in Georgia was deemed safe and Europe was ready to resume the flow of tourists, Tbilisi decided to postpone the resumption of regular flights and restart tourism to August 1.
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The Government of Georgia explained the change in plans by stating that they were concerned for the health of their citizens, and therefore caution is needed to avoid exacerbating the epidemiological situation.
“The resumption of regular flights means that in Georgia, all 40 companies that transported passengers prior to the closure of borders would resume their activities. And this, in turn, means that citizens of not only European countries, but also others could start arriving in Georgia, which would increase the risk,” explained Minister of Economics Natia Turnava.
The government’s decisiion displeased the majority of the population, who believed that the call to “learn to live with the coronavirus” implies the lifting restrictions, including on flights, and reopening borders. Representatives of the tourism sector are even more disappointed, as there have been no tourists in Georgia for the past four months, and travel companies, hotels and restaurants are now fighting to survive.
But epidemiologists are pleased with the decision. “There is practically no communal spread of coronavirus in Georgia. But the situation may worsen if the virus is introduced from the outside,” said epidemiologist Otar Chokoshvili.