World News

Azerbaijan and Georgia to start lifting coronavirus restrictions from Monday

BAKU (Reuters) - Azerbaijan and Georgia plan to start lifting coronavirus-related restrictions from April 27, their governments said on Friday.

The ex-Soviet countries in the South Caucasus have recorded limited incidence of COVID-19 so far, with a total of 1,592 cases and 21 deaths in Azerbaijan and 431 confirmed cases and five deaths in neighbouring Georgia.

Schools, universities, kindergartens and shopping malls in Azerbaijan will remain closed but a range of shops selling goods from newspapers and books to electronics, cars and agricultural machinery will be allowed to reopen.

Time allowed for people to leave the house will be increased to three from two hours.

The country imposed a month-long special quarantine regime on March 24 and extended it until May 4. Its dominant oil sector has continued operating, with workers separated into shifts.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said a nationwide ban on movement of private vehicles would be lifted, grocery markets would be opened and all online and delivery services would resume operations from April 27.

Gakharia said other restrictions would be removed gradually.

Another South Caucasus country, Armenia, which extended state of emergency on April 13 for 30 days, allowed certain business activities, including fishing, mining, financial and insurance services, agriculture and cigarette production.

The country of around 3 million also eased some restrictions on real estate, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade and publishing as well as vehicle and electronic equipment repairs.

It has recorded 1,596 infections, with 27 deaths.

Reporting by Nailia Bagirova in Baku, Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi and Nvard Hovhannisyan in Yerevan; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Philippa Fletcher