Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Georgia to ease restrictions imposed to combat COVID-19 in phases May 29, June 1, and June 8; some restrictions to remain.

This alert affects Georgia

This alert began 27 May 2020 11:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Georgia will ease restrictions on public transport and nonessential businesses in phases May 29, June 1, and June 8. The measures were imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Public transport, including buses, minibuses, and the Tbilisi Metro, will resume May 29. From June 1, nonessential businesses will be permitted to reopen, including shopping malls, outdoor and indoor markets, and open-air restaurants. Tbilisi City Hall and municipal service centers throughout Tbilisi district will also reopen June 1. From June 8, hotels will be permitted to reopen, provided they have passed an inspection by the Ministry of Health. Intercity transport will also resume June 8.

Parliament previously adopted an amended health law that allows the government to extend several COVID-19-related measures to at least July 15. Restrictions that are currently set to remain in place include:

  • A ban on most foreigners entering the country, with the exception of diplomats, persons entering the country on humanitarian missions, and permanent residents.
  • The suspension of almost all international flights, with the exception of repatriation and other critical flights.
  • The closure of borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, and Turkey.
  • The suspension of most passenger ferry services, with the exception of repatriation services.
  • The suspension of port calls for all cruise vessels.


The above restrictions do not impact freight transport. Additionally, all persons arriving in Georgia from countries with COVID-19 outbreaks are required to self-isolate for 14 days. The use of protective masks is mandatory in public. Educational facilities remain closed; only remote learning is permitted. Sports events and recreational activities remain banned. All gatherings and cultural events, including weddings, may not exceed 10 people.

Authorities previously lifted restrictions on entering and exiting Tbilisi, Batumi, Gori, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gardabani, and Marneuli. Restrictions on movement within these cities were also lifted. Additionally, construction work, production of construction materials, and automobile service centers have been permitted to reopen. Wholesale and retail trade has also resumed in these locations. Authorities lifted the ban on the use of private vehicles and taxis April 27; protective masks must be worn if more than one person is in the vehicle. Restrictions on online shopping, delivery services, and open-air agricultural markets were also lifted.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The restrictive measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. Should the number of COVID-19 cases increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in a further relaxation of restrictions.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV2-virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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