Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Georgia opens border for travelers from five countries July 8. Significant COVID-19-related travel and business disruptions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 08 Jul 2020 11:37 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 22 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Georgia announced July 8 that they will open the border for travelers from five countries as part of the government's plan to gradually remove restrictions introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Travelers will be permitted from France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia provided they arrive via direct flights only, fill in travel history and trip itinerary forms prior to travel, and submit to a COVID-19 test on arrival. Travelers from these countries will not be required to self-isolate provided they have not visited other countries in the previous 14 days. Individuals will be able to travel once airlines resume services with Georgia. The Georgian government is currently negotiating with Lufthansa (LH), Air France (AF), and Air Baltic (BT); flights are unlikely to be available before Aug. 1.

Georgia's land borders remain closed to passenger traffic, excluding nationals and residents returning home. Most foreigners from all countries other than France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia remain barred from entry indefinitely; 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.

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. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited and individuals must wear protective face coverings in enclosed public spaces.

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.

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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