Azerbaijan has extended the closure of its land borders to ‘prevent the spread of COVID-19’ until April, despite dropping most COVID-related restrictions, including air travel.
Azerbaijan has been extending the closure of its borders since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.
The country has since dropped all other anti-pandemic measures, including the use of facemasks and vaccination certificates, and has allowed Azerbaijanis and foreign nationals to enter the country by air without PCR tests or evidence of vaccination.
Cargo from Georgia, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, has remained allowed to enter the country by land.
Azerbaijan’s borders remain closed despite the World Health Organisation announcing the end of the COVID-19 global health emergency in May 2023.
In August, a group of Azerbaijani Georgians appealed to President Ilham Aliyev to open the country’s border with Georgia, citing the border closure’s ‘very negative effect’ on people and its obstruction of economic activities.
‘The notoriously high cost of current airlines is unaffordable and limiting for thousands of disadvantaged individuals’, asserted the petition in August. ‘Elderly people are particularly unable to use air travel, or it is too risky and difficult for them’.
Several activists and opposition figures in Azerbaijan criticised the government for postponing its long-awaited reopening of the borders.
Giyas Ibrahim, a pro-democracy activist, joked that the closure would be extended again on the day of the snap presidential elections scheduled for 7 February to last as long as a whole presidential term.
‘The quarantine regime will be extended on 7 February for another seven years’, he wrote on Facebook.
Tofig Yagublu, an opposition activist, said that the COVID-19 pandemic was ‘over not only in the world but also in Azerbaijan’.
‘Our daily life continues as before’, he said. ‘If daily life in the country continues as it is, then why is the quarantine regime extended?’
He accused the Aliyev family of directly benefiting from the closure of the land borders, citing their ties to Azerbaijan Airlines, which ended its last financial year with a net profit for the first time in history as the land borders remained closed.
‘As we know, [Azerbaijan Airlines] indirectly serves the Aliyev family. Aliyev consciously keeps the borders closed and continues to oppress the people.’