Georgian Protesters Demand Government Ease Lockdown Measures
Opponents of covid restrictions claim; victory, but do not cancel; action of defiance
Georgia is easing quarantine measures earlier than planned, as the average rate of positive COVID-19 cases fell to 4% over the past week. According to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, from February 8, public transport will resume work throughout the country and non-food markets will open. Then, from February 15, schools will resume work, as well as restaurants with open terraces and verandas. — only they will be allowed to receive visitors.
At the same time on Saturdays and Sundays there will be «strict lockdown» – that is, a ban on traffic, food facilities and non-food markets. Also from 21:00 to 05:00 will remain in force «curfew». At the same time, fines and sanctions for violations of quarantine restrictions are being tightened.
Earlier, part of the opposition, as well as representatives of the business sector, including the Association of Georgian Restaurateurs, announced that they intend to stage a large-scale protest against coronavirus restrictions in the capital of Georgia on February 6, as well as organize «March of defiance» — march through the streets of Tbilisi during the curfew. The authorities urged them to abandon this venture and threatened «tough reaction» in case of arbitrary opening of catering facilities in violation of the law.
At the same time, on February 3, Georgian epidemiologists once again issued a warning that if all restrictions related to the containment of the coronavirus were lifted, the country would face a worst-case scenario, and that the Georgian health sector would not be able to withstand such a burden..
«The ice has broken?»
The organizers of the action of disobedience on Saturday declare their «victory», linking the decision of the authorities to lift some of the restrictions with the planned protest actions. However, according to opponents of quarantine measures, the relaxation of restrictions announced by the prime minister is in fact insufficient and will not be able to prevent «economic collapse» in the country.
In particular, as the opponents of the authorities note, the curfew, as well as the admission of visitors only to the open spaces of restaurants in winter, are «dubious concession» for the restaurant business. However, the Restaurateurs Association stated that «the ice has broken» despite the fact that they did not receive everything that they demanded.
At the same time, discontent was expressed by the owners of private kindergartens, entertainment centers, gyms, facilities in ski resorts, the opening date of which is still unknown..
In a social movement «Ashamed» claim that the decision announced by Prime Minister Gakharia is only «trick», whose purpose — defuse tension and prevent a large-scale protest, which is scheduled for Saturday. Opponents of quarantine restrictions claim that they will still hold the action and «March of defiance» during curfew.
It is noteworthy that protesters against quarantine measures have already held protests in Tbilisi and a few marches during the curfew. At the same time, the participants in the night actions, despite being on the street at a time when it was prohibited, were not detained by law enforcement officers..
Details in numbers
In Georgia, since November 28, 2020, strict restrictions have been in force to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In particular, the movement of public and intercity transport was stopped, educational institutions were closed and a curfew was introduced. Also, wearing protective masks has become mandatory not only in enclosed spaces, but also on the streets. As a result, the daily increase in those infected with the coronavirus has dropped significantly. If in November it was about 5,000 infected, then in early February the daily figure dropped to less than 800 cases of COVID-19 infection. So over the past 24 hours, 583 new cases of coronavirus infection were registered in the country.
In general, as of February 4, 260 480 people were infected with coronavirus in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, of whom have already recovered — 251,748 and 3,240 died. In this case, active cases — 5 466.
At the same time since the start of the pandemic, the country’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism, has shrunk by 6%. According to official figures, 137,000 people were unemployed in the first three quarters of last year. During the same period, the volume of foreign direct investment in Georgia decreased by $ 227 million compared to the same period in 2019. In particular, during this time, a total of 719 million investments were made, which is the minimum indicator over the past ten years..