TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgia declared a state of emergency on Saturday, coming into effect immediately and in force for a month, and barred gatherings of more than 10 people as it seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Parliament approved the state of emergency, which gave the government additional powers and introduced social distancing and a ban on mass gatherings.
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said earlier on Saturday that the state of emergency did not mean a curfew and all main freedoms, including freedom of speech, would be guaranteed.
The South Caucasus country of 3.7 million reported 49 cases of coronavirus as of Saturday, with no deaths.
Previously, Georgia has closed its borders, imposed a ban on all foreign citizens entering the country and completely halted air traffic with other countries.
It has also closed all shops except for groceries, pharmacies and petrol stations and closed winter resorts, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and gyms.
Neighboring Armenia, which declared one-month emergency situation earlier this week, said on Saturday it would close all malls and shops except for grocery and liquor stores from March 22-April 14.
Bars, cinemas, clubs and casinos will remain closed as well until the lifting of the emergency situation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Armenia has reported 160 cases of coronavirus so far, with no deaths.
In another South Caucasus country, Azerbaijan, the government limited working hours of restaurants, cafes and internet clubs to six daytime hours. Azerbaijan has reported 53 cases of coronavirus, with one death.
(Reporting by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi, Nvard Hovhannisyan in Yerevan and Nailia Bagirova in Baku; Editing by Alexander Smith and Frances Kerry)