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Tbilisi diners to go hungry on Saturday as restaurants announce delivery boycott

29 January 2021
Restaurants and shops on the New Aghmashenebli project are closed. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Over 100 restaurants in Tbilisi have committed to halting their operations for one day this Saturday in protest against anti-coronavirus restrictions.

On 30 January, the establishments will not be delivering to customers or providing takeaway services — the only options permitted by the pandemic-related curbs that remain in place in Georgia. 

Restaurants in Georgia have been closed since late November when the government reintroduced tight lockdown measures throughout the economy following a sharp rise in coronavirus numbers since September.

Shota Burjanadze, one of the co-founders of the Georgian Restaurant Association (GRA), told OC Media that 109 establishments had already joined the action.

The GRA, as well as ski resorts and other hospitality business associations, have been unsuccessful in convincing the government to allow them to restart their operations and to relaunch public transport. 

Several groups have appealed to the government to at least help struggling businesses with their bank credit responsibilities and taxes.

Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava, who has insisted the government was in close contact with hospitality business groups through a ‘common [online] chat’, admitted on 22 January that the government wished to avoid reopening eateries and shopping centres simultaneously. 

As part of a gradual reopening of the economy, with most restrictions kept in place, the government plans to allow shops and large shopping centres to reopen from February in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Rustavi. 

Public transport and inter-city connections will remain shut down after being put on halt in major Georgian cities, including Tbilisi, since late November. 

In parallel to the restaurant boycott, the GRA said they would join a protest outside the Government Chancellery in Tbilisi on Saturday.

The number of anti-lockdown protests has risen since the authorities announced on 22 January that most of the restrictions on public and economic life nationwide would be extended until March. 

Almost daily rallies have been held by groups including businesses, gym-goers, and protests focusing specifically on returning public transport. 

[Read more on OC Media: Anti-lockdown protesters call for end to ‘Canned Georgia’]

A survey carried out in December by CRRC found that 56% of those surveyed approved of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while 38% disapproved. 

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