Constitutional Referendum Postponed as Armenia Declares State of Emergency

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan chairs a cabinet session during which a state of emergency was declared in Armenia
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan chairs a cabinet session during which a state of emergency was declared in Armenia

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan chairs a cabinet session during which a state of emergency was declared in Armenia

A constitutional referendum scheduled for April 5 has been postponed as Armenia declared a state of emergency to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

”According to the legislation of Armenia, no referendum can take place during the period of the state of emergency. The referendum will take place no sooner than 50 days and no later than 65 days after the state of emergency. The process of the referendum will restart from the point it stopped,” said Pashinyan in an address to parliament on Monday.

The referendum was scheduled to allow voters to decide whether to amend the constitution to allow for the removal of justices of Armenia’s Constitutional Court, including its chairman Hrayr Tovmasyan.

On Monday, the Armenian government declared a state of emergency in an effort to contain the further spread of the deadly coronavirus. Currently there are 52 reported cases in Armenia, with two dozen of them linked to a single community, which has been identified to be in Etchmiadzin.

The city of Etchmiadzin has been blockaded, with travel into and outside the city being limited. All passengers are being checked at the city limit before allowing them to continue their travel.

The state of emergency, which will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, will impose limitation on Armenian citizens. The limitations include the cancelation of all gatherings of more than 20 people, which also may include private functions such as weddings, celebrations and funerals. They also include religious ceremonies, concerts, exhibitions, displays, theater performances, sports, cultural, educational and entertainment events. Travel to Armenia will be limited and passengers entering Armenia will be screened and quarantined if they exhibit symptoms. Travel outside Armenia will be restricted to air travel, with passengers agreeing to be quarantined or self-quarantined upon their return.

Travelers to and from Artsakh will be tested at the border checkpoints and those with symptoms will be returned to their point of departure and urged to be quarantined.

All educational facilities will remain closed until April 14, with institutions possibly offering remote learning. All

Speaking to lawmakers on Monday, Pashinyan said that at this moment the greatest risk is connected with the most recently identified coronavirus patient, who is employed by a large production company in Yerevan. “I think we’ve managed to trace the scope of his contacts, but you cannot be absolutely sure in such cases and this is one of the reasons for declaring a state of emergency,” said Pashinyan who did not name the company.

“I want to assure you that the government of Armenia will refrain from applying any restrictions not emanating from the situation and that we will do everything for the state of emergency, which will last until April 14, to be as justified and efficient as possible in terms of curbing the spread of the coronavirus,” added Pashinyan.

To prevent panic, the government outlined guidelines that mandate all social media posts and media reports to conform to the government’s information about the virus and update on the state of emergency.

On Monday, Pashinyan urged citizens to not panic, and assured that Armenia had enough food supplies to last the duration of the state of emergency. He also urged citizen to not “panic shop” to ensure the continuity of supplies in stores.

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