The Government of Georgia announced today that starting from April 18 Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia residents traveling to Tbilisi-controlled territories will undergo mandatory antigen testing over COVID-19 instead of five-day quarantine.
The residents of occupied regions visiting Georgia proper will be able to request COVID vaccination, while those having received two doses of the vaccine jabs will be allowed to enter Tbilisi-controlled territories without a test.
The decision comes as four Georgians from the Abkhaz-held Gali district drowned while swimming the Enguri River to reach Tbilisi-controlled territory on April 7. The Georgian authorities, putting the blame over the Russian occupation, said the deceased tried to bypass the Russian and the Abkhaz “border” guards. Others pointed fingers at the Tbilisi-imposed mandatory quarantine as adding to the hardships for Gali and other occupied territory residents and demanded dropping the quarantine.
The Abkhaz authorities have effectively closed the Enguri crossing point since late February 2020, citing coronavirus pandemic fears. Sokhumi slightly eased the crossing rules in February 2021 for certain groups, including the elderly, pensioners, and persons with special needs. But there is no full reopening in sight so far after a year-long closure.
Crossing points with Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia are effectively closed since September 2019, following the Chorchana-Tsnelisi police checkpoint crisis.