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Georgia goes into lockdown

26 November 2020
An informational poster about COVID-19 on a bus in Tbilisi. Photo: Tamuna Chkareuli/OC Media.

The Georgian Government has announced a lockdown throughout much of the country to counter the coronavirus after the virus has spread widely in the country since September.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said they would reintroduce a host of tight restrictions coming into force on Saturday, including closing shops in major cities and increasing curfew hours. 

The authorities confirmed 3,801 new cases and 39 fatalities on 26 November within the previous 24 hours. Since the first case registered on 26 February, Georgia has recorded a total 118,690 cases of COVID-19 and 1,124 deaths in the country.

The curfew will now be extended from 21:00–05:00 until 31 January and will apply nationwide.

The curfew will be eased between 31 December and 6 January, when Georgians celebrate the new year, when it will apply only on weekends. On New Years eve to New Years Day, it will be completely lifted.

Bars and restaurants will be shut across the country and will be allowed to offer delivery and takeaway services only. Gyms and swimming pools will also be closed, and sports and cultural events will be banned. 

All Inter-city public transport will also be shut down, allowing only private cars.

From 3 January to 15 January Georgia will have national holidays. No public and private facilities will work except for banks and organisations of ‘strategic importance’. 

Gakharia also ‘strongly recommended’ that those above 70 stay home.

Public transport suspended and shops closed in major cities

In the cities of Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori, Poti, Zugdidi, and Telavi, stricter rules will also be in place.

Public transport within these cities will be halted, although taxis will continue to operate. 

All shops except for those selling food, animal food, pharmaceuticals and hygiene products, cleaning products, and press booths will be shut, restricted to offering deliveries only.

All markets, both open and closed, will shut down, except for open agricultural markets. 

School and other educational facilities will go fully online, and kindergartens will close.

From 24 December to 2 January, shopping centres and open and closed markets will reopen, and municipal and intercity transport will resume. 

Compensation payments

The prime minister also promised a series of payments to help those most affected by the restrictions.

Self-employed people whose work will be restricted will receive a single, ₾300 ($91) compensation payment. Gakhari said he expected 100,000–120,000 people to fall under this category.

The government also announced that starting from next year, they would give ₾200 per month for six months to those who lost their job due to the restrictions.

Socially vulnerable people, people with disabilities who are under 18, and socially vulnerable people with three or more children under 16, will receive ₾100 per month for six months.

Gakharia also vowed to subsidise interest payments on loans for restaurants and hotels for six months.

Businesses operating in the tourism sector will not have to pay property taxes for six months.

The government rescinded the curfew as part of the state of emergency on 23 May, calling all other lighter curbs without the approval of the parliament ‘targeted responses’. These include a mandate to wear protective face masks outdoors and overnight curfew hours currently in place.

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