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COVID-19: Georgia Shuts Down Four Largest Cities, Considers Emergency Extension

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On April 14, Georgian Prime Minister Gakharia announced at an afternoon news briefing that four largest cities – the capital city of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi – will be shut down for 10 days effective from April 15, 21:00 in a bid to halt the coronavirus spread.

Prime Minister Gakharia stated that the government also considers prolonging the nationwide state of emergency until May 10. The Prime Minister will now ask President Salome Zurabishvili to address the Parliament to confirm prolongation of the emergency. 

The Prime Minister said entering and leaving the said four cities will be banned, that in his words aims to “decrease mobility in large cities” as the country has “moved to the full-scale community transmission level.” 

Calling on the citizens to reveal civic responsibility and precisely follow the state of emergency regulations for the next three-four weeks, PM Gakharia said, in mid-May the government will “slowly, gradually” start removing restrictions.

“There is a risk that the process of removing restrictions will be delayed for months,” if we act otherwise, he noted.

The announcement comes four days ahead of dusk-to-dawn Easter Vigil on April 18-19, that Georgian Orthodox Church vowed will go as planned despite the state of emergency and curfew between 21:00 – 06:00. 

Georgian emergency laws ban gathering of more than three people in public. During the curfew, citizens shall stay home, and no movement is allowed without special permit. If the Easter celebrations go as planned, the faithful and the Church will be in violation of both provisions.

Many medics, and some clergymen have warned of the danger of a potential viral explosion. 

On April 13 evening, PM Gakharia, Health Minister Tikaradze and NCDC chief visited the Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II to discuss coronavirus and Easter Service. No official statement was made after the meeting, however.

“You know, it would be ideal that the church remains open and that nobody breaches the law. I am confident this is the [result we should] get to,” said the Prime Minister at today’s briefing, hoping that the faithful will not leave their homes during curfew to visit the church. 

“I can say that the churches will not be shut down, especially for the night of the Easter,” he concluded.

Earlier, Georgia shut down and introduced strict quarantine measures in Khidiskuri village in Khashuri Municipality in Shida Kartli region; seven rural communities of Kobuleti Municipality in the Black Sea region of Adjara; Lentekhi Municipality of Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti region; as well as Marneuli and Bolnisi municipalities, south to capital city of Tbilisi to halt further spread of COVID-19. 

As of April 14, 18:00, Georgia has confirmed 296 cases of the novel coronavirus. 69 infected patients have now recovered and undergo self-isolation. 3 patients have died from coronavirus.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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