Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Georgia extends passenger flight restrictions through at least Sept. 1; significant COVID-19-related business and travel disruptions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 12:08 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 05 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least Sept. 1
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Georgia will maintain restrictions on international passenger flights introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through at least Sept. 1. Direct passenger flights will only be permitted with France, Germany, and Latvia during this period, via AirFrance (AF), Lufthansa (LH), and Air Baltic (BT), respectively, though flights are unlikely to be available before Aug. 1.

As of July 8, citizens and residents of France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are permitted to enter Georgia without the requirement to self-isolate provided they arrive via direct flights only, fill in travel history and trip itinerary forms before travel, and submit to a COVID-19 test on arrival. Citizens and residents of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden are permitted to travel to Georgia but must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. Most foreigners from all other countries remain barred from entry; the restrictions do not apply to Georgian citizens and their immediate families, and diplomatic personnel. Officials state that business travel from other countries is permitted to resume provided arrivals undergo a 14-day quarantine, or produce a negative COVID-19 test every 72 hours; specific business travel arrangements will be arranged between government officials and business sector representatives. Authorities are continuing to prohibit passenger entry via land borders.

Previously authorities in Georgia lifted most domestic travel restrictions and permitted most businesses and services to resume operation, provided they implement strict social distancing and hygiene requirements. Individuals must wear protective face coverings in enclosed public spaces, including public transport, and where social distancing cannot be observed.

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 easing of measures in Georgia is similar to actions undertaken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the beginning of the summer tourist season, and lower infection rates of COVID-19. As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 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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