Uzbekistan to start lifting lockdown from Saturday

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will lift its second lockdown starting from Saturday, the government said on Wednesday, promising to restore most services in the central Asian country within days in order to revive the economy.

The government reintroduced a lockdown last month after lifting restrictions in June led to a surge in new COVID-19 cases, leaving hospitals struggling to cope.

On Saturday, people will be allowed to drive their cars again and hold ceremonies such as weddings for up to 30 guests at their homes. Businesses such as hotels, barbershops and outdoor cafes will also be able to reopen and air and rail traffic will resume, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s office said in a statement.

On Monday the former Soviet republic plans to restart bus services and on Aug. 20 large shops, markets and gyms will be able to reopen.

Uzbekistan, a country of 34 million, has reported 32,215 COVID-19 cases and 208 deaths from the disease.

It has yet to announce its plans with regards to schools which usually open on Sept. 2. However, the government has said that university and college entrance exams will be held at stadiums across the country.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Susan Fenton