Theaters close in Abkhazia amid growing number of Covid-19 cases
All cultural institutions including theaters were closed in Abkhazia due to the rapid increase in cases of coronavirus infection. At the same time, the ban on holding public events, including weddings, where hundreds of people gather, is not massively observed. The tourist season is also in full swing but vaccination certificates and even negative PCR tests are still not needed to enter Abkhazia.
Over the last day on July 10, 168 cases of coronavirus infection were detected in Abkhazia, three patients died. There are more than 230 people in hospitals, of which more than 60 are in serious condition. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,673 cases of infection have been recorded in Abkhazia (with a population of about 200 thousand people). 260 people died, 15,750 recovered.
The decision to close theaters, museums, libraries, and cultural centers was signed by the Minister of Culture Gudis Agrba and it will come into force on July 12 for an indefinite period. Typically, such orders are issued as the execution of presidential orders. However, no such proposals were received from him or from the operational headquarters.
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The decision to ban public events was made on July 5, but no one controls its implementation. Every evening, large-scale proms are held throughout the republic, and weddings are celebrated on weekends.
One of the most notorious events has occurred recently in the city of Gudauta.
The family was infected with the coronavirus but still celebrated a large-scale wedding, hiding the fact of infection from neighbors who helped organizing it and from invited guests. As a result, 70 people became infected with Covid-19.
Tens of thousands of Russian tourists enter Abkhazia every day – and they are not required to have any documents other than a passport.
The director of the State Russian Drama Theater named after V.I. F. Iskander Irakli Khintba commented on the situation as follows:
“Of course, when they need to close something, they choose cultural institutions as they are not brave enough to close restaurants, etc. Such decisions are not even discussed with us. That’s despite the fact that we are the only institutions in the country where quarantine measures are strictly observed”, Khintba said.
At the same time, the decision was publicly supported by an employee of the Abkhaz State Drama Theater. S. Chanba Milana Khashba. She wrote on her social media page that “in many creative teams there are many of those infected with Covid-19 which is why it is necessary to approach the situation responsibly”.
The opposition political party Forum of People’s Unity of Abkhazia, headed by ex-President Raul Khadzhimba has already made several appeals to the authorities and society.
“We ask all compatriots to be more vigilant and responsible. Unfortunately, in such a difficult situation, one cannot count on clear, thoughtful, reasonable measures on the part of the authorities”, the statement reads.
“The authorities do not even comply with their own half-hearted decisions to combat the pandemic. The presidential decrees are nothing but tools of political PR and the leadership itself does not comply with them. Decisions are made with a great delay following the new wave of pandemics. There is no practice of taking preventive measures. Not a single institution that violates the restriction regime has been closed, not a single leader has been punished”, the party said.
The statement also accused the authorities of creating a threat by opening the border with Georgia, “while there a new strain of the virus began to infect even babies”. The statement does not mention the flow of Russian tourists to Abkhazia.
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