The world celebrates New Year’s Eve like no other with global COVID-19 restrictions
Curfew remains in effect except on New Year’s and Christmas nights
Georgian authorities decide on New Year’s Eve to weaken strict restrictions in force since November 28 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19.
In particular, on December 22, the Interdepartmental Coordination Council announced that retail facilities would open from December 24 to January 3. At the same time, the work of food outlets is prohibited in shopping centers, and fitting rooms will not work in clothing stores. Responsibility for shoppers’ compliance with the distance and other safety standards will be the responsibility of the owners of retail facilities. In case of violations, fines will be involved, in extreme cases, the suspension of the operation of the facility is possible.
It was also decided that the curfew in force throughout the country from 9 pm to 5 am will be canceled on New Year’s Eve, December 31, and on the night of Orthodox Christmas, January 6. At the same time, on the night of Catholic Christmas – December 24, the congregation of Catholic cathedrals will be issued with one-time passes, which will ensure their presence at the festive mass..
At the same time, the ban on the movement of public and intercity transport remains in force. It was also decided to tighten the opening hours of hotel restaurants, since according to the authorities, some of them were going to arrange New Year’s celebrations and sent out proposals through social networks. Accordingly, the authorities limited the operation of hotel restaurants until 9 p.m., after this time, only providing guests with food exclusively in hotel rooms was allowed..
Head of the National Center for Disease Control, known as the “Lugar Center”, the country’s chief epidemiologist Amiran Gamkrelide called the decision taken by the authorities “difficult” but “balanced”. At the same time, he urged the population not to lose vigilance and to modestly celebrate the New Year holidays..
“Let’s not be under the illusion that we are defeating the coronavirus infection, this is still a long way off,” Gamkrelidze said on December 22.
Georgia, which reported its first coronavirus case on February 26, was one of the first countries to take strict preventive measures against COVID-19. When the number of infected people reached 54 on March 21, a state of emergency was declared in Georgia, which was in effect until May 23, as well as a curfew. In June, there was virtually no internal transmission of COVID-19 in Georgia, and cases of infection began to increase from the beginning of August..
As the prime minister of the country said earlier Georgy Gakharia, the epidemiological situation in the country, in which at the beginning of September there were only 1,500 infected, has deteriorated sharply as a result of the election campaign. In particular, with a large crowd of people, the participants in pre-election actions often ignored the rules of epidemiological safety, that is, wearing masks and observing social distance. At the same time, the prime minister said that the elections could not be postponed, since, according to him, this was a demand of voters, whose turnout in the parliamentary elections on October 31 was 56.11% – 4.48% more than in the 2016 parliamentary elections. of the year.
In early November, the daily increase in coronavirus infections in Georgia averaged about 5,000, creating a crisis in the country’s health sector. It was decided to tighten restrictions in order to contain COVID-19. Two weeks later, according to the Coordination Council, “the situation has stabilized.” Nevertheless, as the government said, since the daily infection rate remains high, the complete lifting of restrictions, as previously planned, would significantly aggravate the epidemiological situation in the country..
As of December 22, 212,526 people were infected with coronavirus in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, of which 188,408 have already recovered, and 2,182 have died. At the same time, active cases – 21.936.
What vaccine will Georgia receive??
Georgian authorities expect to receive enough COVID-19 vaccines in March next year to vaccinate 20 percent of the country’s population in the first stage. As a candidate for health minister announced on December 22 Ekaterina Tikaradze during parliamentary hearings, Georgia will receive these vaccines on the basis of an agreement signed in September within the framework of the international mechanism Kovax (COVAX), an initiative to ensure the availability of vaccines against COVID-19, uniting more than 170 countries.
At the same time, Georgia will have the opportunity to choose a vaccine approved under this platform, including vaccines “Pfizer”, “Moderna”, “Astrazeneca”. According to Tikaradze, Georgia is not considering purchasing a Russian vaccine at this stage..
“The Russian vaccine is not being considered, but it is important to note that the Russian vaccine also participates in the Kovax mechanism. If it is recognized in the world, not only Georgia, but also other countries can become its users, but at this stage this is not discussed in Georgia, ”said the candidate for the Minister of Health of Georgia.
At the same time, the country’s chief epidemiologist, Amiran Gamkrelidze, at a briefing on December 22, explained that within the framework of the Kovacs platform, five to seven vaccines will be presented based on the recommendation of the World Health Organization and, according to the agreement, Georgia will be able to choose the vaccine for inoculating the population. Although, in addition to this mechanism, according to Gamkrelide, Georgia is negotiating the purchase of a vaccine directly with manufacturers, including Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca and others..
“We are working with all these companies, and I will say it again, our country is working with the United States to make the vaccine available to Georgia as soon as possible,” said Amiran Gamkrelidze.
It is noteworthy that as the head of the Georgian Foreign Ministry David Zalkaliani previously told the media, during the talks in Tbilisi with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the parties discussed the possibility of Georgia getting an American vaccine.