Giorgi Gakharia: Effectively, we are declaring universal quarantine

Giorgi Gakharia: Effectively, we are declaring universal quarantine

The government made the decision to significantly tighten measures within the framework of the state of emergency, which will take effect at 8:00 in the morning tomorrow, stated Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia at a briefing held after the conclusion of a session of the Interagency Coordination Council on the coronavirus.

Today’s session took place in an extended format and was attended by the mayor of the capital, members of the Cabinet of Ministers, and senior officials from the Center for Disease Control, in addition to members of the council.

“We have decided to significantly tighten measures within the framework of the state of emergency. Effectively – and I would like to emphasize this – effectively, we are declaring universal quarantine, which will begin tomorrow, at 8:00 in the morning. This quarantine means the following:

• Traveling using any type of public transport (including the subway) is completely prohibited both within and between cities and municipalities.

• It is only permissible to travel in light vehicles (including taxis), and only if the recommendation of the Ministry of Healthcare has been taken into consideration, i.e., if there are no more than three persons in the automobile, with the essential condition that the two persons are seated in the rear seat. This is a very important recommendation and relevant state bodies will make the appropriate decisions in case of noncompliance.

• Also, it is only permissible to carry passengers for the purpose of transporting employees of facilities of strategic importance in an organized and safe manner.

• Gathering of more than three persons is forbidden, with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies, where maintaining a social distance of two meters is mandatory.

• Furthermore, rules governing the operation of enterprises that are permitted by the government will be set out separately; they will have separate protocols that will be agreed with the Ministry of Healthcare. We are doing this so that the economy can continue to function and to ensure that the potential that the Georgian economy possesses is not brought to a standstill, as well as, of course, to ensure that our citizens can retain their jobs as much as possible.

• Our citizens above 70 years of age will be forbidden from leaving their homes, unless they are going to their nearest grocery store, their nearest pharmacy, or their nearest medical facility.

• If our citizens above 70 years of age live alone, the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Economy, as well as local municipalities, are obligated to provide them with assistance.

• Most importantly: Effectively, a full quarantine will be declared for the duration of the state of emergency. It will be forbidden to travel on foot or using any other mode of transportation in the cities and throughout the entire country between the hours of 21:00 and 06:00. Effectively – and I would like to emphasize this once again – effectively, this means that a so-called curfew is being declared throughout the entire country between the hours of 21:00 and 06:00.

• Checkpoints will be set up in the cities of Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti, Zugdidi, and Gori in order to control the movement of individuals, to check their health status, and to ensure the fulfillment of the tightened measures under the state of emergency, as well as to provide initial thermal screening and to control the administrative borders of these cities. These measures will be carried out by the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the involvement of the relevant agencies of the Ministry of Defense.

• A very important point: Every citizen must carry their identity documents while traveling within the city at any time,” the prime minister of Georgia stated.

Giorgi Gakharia noted during the briefing that the government is doing everything possible to minimize the damage done to the economy through tightening measures.

“We understand that we will overcome this challenge as well, we will emerge victorious once again and we must retain our economy. However, the attitude that we see in the cities of Georgia is simply unacceptable. We can see that a certain part of our citizens does not comprehend the gravity of the problem,” the prime minister stated.

According to the head of government, making quick and bold decisions is the only tool in the government’s possession that allows it to be effective and successful in the fight against this virus, therefore it has no right to be late.

“I would like to quote a few figures that concern our friend countries – in recent months, since this virus became a global problem and challenge, more than 10,779 people have died in Italy, 6,803 people have died in Spain, 2,606 people have died in France, 1,228 people have died in Great Britain, 776 people have died in the Netherlands, and 541 people have died in Germany. Of course, we offer our condolences to our partner countries. We stand together with them in this global fight and it is our obligation not to relax while we are still in control of the situation here in Georgia, while our daily, preventive steps still allow us to say that we are handling the challenge in a relatively normal way. We must absolutely comprehend the gravity of the situation that we witness on a daily basis in European countries. These are countries that are significantly stronger in economic terms than Georgia, and these are countries with significantly stronger healthcare systems. Making quick and bold decisions is the only tool that allows us to be effective and successful in the fight against this virus and we do not have the right to be late under any circumstances,” Giorgi Gakharia stated.

The prime minister noted that recent developments clearly demonstrate that not all citizens have fully comprehended the gravity of the situation and the associated risks.

“Recent developments and visits to several regions clearly demonstrate that unfortunately, not all of our citizens have fully comprehended the gravity of the situation and the risks faced by every one of our citizens who are navigating the streets of Tbilisi or any other city – the risks faced by every citizen who does his or her everyday job and cannot even imagine the high risks associated with the continuation of his or her daily life as before. Nevertheless, we are doing everything to minimize the damage done to the economy through tightening measures as we understand that we will overcome this challenge as well, we will emerge victorious once again and we must retain our economy,” Giorgi Gakharia stated.

According to the head of government, the latest data reveal that there already are 100 persons infected with the coronavirus in Georgia. Giorgi Gakharia stated that even though 18 persons have recovered, the rate of the increase of the number of infections is concerning.

“I would like to emphasize several issues. Today is the first time that we have had three cases [of infection] whose origin we cannot identify. When the first such case was identified in Marneuli, we took emergency measures and Marneuli and Bolnisi were declared quarantine zones. Today, we have three such cases. Unfortunately, we have one case of an employee of the medical sector becoming infected and this, along with all the other facts taken together, allows us to take the next essential steps toward tightening measures. We must all know that we can win in this global struggle not only through the heroic, round-the-clock work of medical workers, not through the work of government agencies and the police, but through a certain agreement with our public and our citizens, whereby this is a joint challenge – one that we must respond to together,” Giorgi Gakharia stated.

The prime minister also discussed the Operational Management Headquarters.

“The Operational Management Headquarters was established under – and parallel to – the Interagency Council. The Operational Management Headquarters will be an agency working 24 hours a day in order to fully coordinate the implementation of the decisions made within the framework of the Interagency Council,” the prime minister stated.

According to Giorgi Gakharia, the Operational Management Headquarters will also participate in the preparation of the aforementioned decisions, as well as in the preparation of information and analytical materials.

“I would like to tell our citizens that similar headquarters will be set up in every region and soon – starting today – they will have comprehensive information about who will lead the headquarters, which means that these headquarters will be the implementers of the decisions made by the Interagency Council and furthermore, they will coordinate the continued functioning of the country, the continued functioning of the economy under the state of emergency and even under conditions of a somewhat severe quarantine,” Giorgi Gakharia stated.

As the prime minister pointed out, the effective enforcement of the restrictions and, most importantly, the cooperation between the state, the citizen, and any social group within this country under these restrictions is extremely important in order for us to continue with the relatively successful response to the challenge, which has been the case until now.

“I want every one of us to understand one thing when we say that there are 100 infected persons in Georgia today, and that internal transmission has started – we only have three instances of internal transmission. This means that the state was in full control of the borders, including with the help of the quarantine zones. Of course, we will continue to control these cases of imported infection but the process that concerns internal transmission is extremely dangerous. This is a case that is simply impossible to control solely through the efforts of state agencies, the Ministry of Healthcare, the Center for Disease Control. I would like to emphasize one again that this is the case when cooperation between state institutions, citizens, and every individual representative of the civil sector is of extreme importance,” the head of government stated.

Giorgi Gakharia addressed every citizen of Georgia and stressed that the health and lives of our citizens depend on the fulfillment of these conditions and compliance with these restrictions.

“We must all understand that this is the greatest responsibility, to be effective and for all of us to understand that this is the case when we serve a single purpose – the health and lives of the citizens of Georgia – regardless of our political, religious, or other worldviews,” the head of government stated.

As the prime minister pointed out, the restrictions imposed under the state of emergency will come into force tomorrow, at 8:00 in the morning.

“I would like to address every citizen of Georgia – the health and lives of our citizens depend on the fulfillment of these conditions and compliance with these restrictions. We must all understand that this is the greatest responsibility, to be effective and for all of us to understand that this is the case when we serve a single purpose – the health and lives of the citizens of Georgia – regardless of our political, religious, or other worldviews. I would like to tell you that you, the journalists, can also make use of the number 144 to ensure that the media face no problems while working. Emergency measures will commence tomorrow, at 8:00 in the morning, and special quarantine measures, which will effectively prohibit movement in the streets, will start at 21:00 tomorrow and continue until 6:00 in the morning,” Giorgi Gakharia stated.

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