Georgia will end coronavirus state of emergency on May 22: PM

TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia will end the state of emergency it declared over the new coronavirus on May 22, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on Friday.

The South Caucasus country of 3.7 million, which has registered 671 cases of the coronavirus and 12 deaths as of Friday, introduced the state of emergency on March 21 and extended it on April 21.

The state of emergency entails a night curfew from 9 pm till 6 am, closure of restaurants, cafes and most shops, a suspension of public transport and a ban on gatherings of more than three people. Grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations remain open.

The ex-Soviet country has already removed its lockdown of four big cities, including the capital Tbilisi, and reopened retail and wholesale stores, except those selling clothing and footwear or located in shopping malls.

Gakharia told the government meeting that all remaining restrictions would be lifted gradually, although he did not specify whether a ban on public transport would remain in place.

The night curfew will also be lifted after May 22, government spokeswoman Sopo Mdinaradze told Reuters.

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by Tom Balmforth and Margarita Antidze; Editing by Toby Chopra