Armenia extends state of emergency for fifth time
The Armenian government has decided to extend the state of emergency in the country for the fifth time until September 11.
The state of emergency was introduced on March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This decision was made in light of the fact that the coronavirus mortality rate remains high, despite a fall in the number of new cases.
The vice prime minister and commandant during the state of emergency Tigran Avinyan had already spoken earlier about the fact that the state of emergency would be extended one final time on August 12, but that some of the restrictions would be lifted.
More details below on what changes will be made to the state of emergency, the opposition’s reaction to the decision, and what people are saying on social media.
This, in part, pertains to allowing foreign citizens to travel to Armenia.
“The entry ban for people who are not citizens of Armenia has been lifted. At the same time, we envisage that if a person is not hospitalized upon entering Armenia, they will self-isolate for 14 days. However, there is a new regulation, according to which within 14 days you can take another test, and if it comes back negative, you can be let out of self-isolation,” said Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan.
Another easement involves mass gatherings. They will now be permitted, but during these events it will be necessary to wear protective masks and maintain a social distance of 1.5-2 meters.
Family events will now be permitted, even with a large number of attendants – up to 40.
All restrictions on the export of goods through customs borders have also been lifted.
The coronavirus situation
Health Minister Arsen Torosyan believes that the spread of coronavirus in Armenia is steadily decreasing. In particular, as of August 12, only 201 of the 1,710 tests conducted the day before came back positive:
“These figures are indicative of the trend in recent weeks. Each week, we have 50-100 fewer new cases of infection. We have a real opportunity to lower these numbers”.
The situation in hospitals is also improving – there are more beds open, both in the main part of the hospital and in the ICU. There are 300 patients in critical condition, but this number was double at the beginning of July.
The prime minister believes that Armenia has the chance to solve the coronavirus problem in the country for good:
“The main issue now is in correctly assessing the situation. We made it through hell, and now we need to do everything we can to not go back there. The second wave of coronavirus has begun in many countries around the world. The authorities of these countries themselves admit that they previously said they had overcome the pandemic, but now a new wave has swept over them”.
Pashinyan says that discipline on the part of the citizens and competent actions on the part of the government can still help prevent the second wave of coronavirus in Armenia.
What the opposition says
The head of the opposition parliamentary faction Bright Armenia Edmon Marukyan stated that the government should abandon its intention to extend the state of emergency for one more month:
“There are countries in a worse situation in terms of coronavirus than Armenia, in which the legal regime of a state of emergency has not been officially declared. Therefore, it is very important that the legal regime of the state of emergency does not continue, that we maintain restrictions with the help of other legal regulations, which, in fact, was not done. In this regard, citizens who leave the country for work will suffer, many spheres of activity will suffer”.
Social media commentary
Facebook users expressed mixed feelings towards the government’s decision.
Here are some of their comments:
“Please resolve the issue with flights and air traffic! People have been unable to see their relatives and families for several months!”
“For several months the government has been urging us to wear these masks! Is it really so difficult to understand that the sooner this infection passes, the sooner we will return to normal life? Is it really that hard to wear the mask?”
“Let them at least lift the regulation on wearing masks in open spaces. It’s summer. It’s impossible to breathe”.
“People have been without salaries for months! How can they survive? Thousands of people every year go to other countries to earn their living, and now they are deprived of this opportunity. I’m tired of these regimes!”