Georgian restaurants and hotels fined up to $3,000 for violating anti-epidemic rules
31 restaurants and hotels, as well as 2 event organizing companies (the club Mtkvarze and commune Mzesumzira) received fines that were unprecedentedly large by local standards for violating anti-epidemic safety measures.
The Georgian ministry of health fined each of these organizations 10,000 lari [around $3,000].
Restaurants and hotels that have been shut down for two months due to the coronavirus epidemic received fines for resuming operations on June 8. For many, the small area inside their establishments and the need to follow recommendations for maintaining social distance between clients has made it hard to make ends meet.
Paying a 10,000 lari fine is very difficult for restaurant and hotel owners because of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, and it will take them at least four months to compensate for the loss, says Shalva Alaverdashvili, president of the Georgian Hotel and Restaurant Federation.
“Georgia has implemented the highest fines in the world. Despite the fact that the business sector is practically in ruins. Many have gone into debt to restart their operations, have gone through the necessary procedures to obtain a license, and just a couple of weeks later, the regulatory authorities came to them and issued fines for doing what they themselves allowed by issuing licenses. My sources show that many are now considering whether to start over again or continue to wait,” Alaverdashvili says.
The founders of the Mtkvarze club and the Mzesumzira commune protested against the fines.
They claim that the mass events they organized complied with all regulations, and they had a guarantee that they would not be fined. But later it turned out that the legislation on working conditions did not include the list of acceptable cultural events, and for this they were fined.
“Why, then, were we summoned to the ministry of health, if our activities, of which electronic music is an integral part, were not logically extrapolated to be acceptable from the list of activities they provided?! Only so that we incur additional expenses, and then are fined?” the owners of Mtkvarze and Mzesumzira said, perplexed.
The labor inspection department of the ministry of health states that all establishments were fined for violations of social distance regulations, as well as lack of documentation regarding disinfection procedures and receipt of new regulations on working conditions.