Travel Ban Expanded to Include U.S., Russia
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan late on Monday reported the addition of 41 new cases of the Coronavirus in Armenia, brining the total of reported cases to 235. He said tougher measures would go into effect to combat the spread of the diseases, as official Yerevan expanded a travel ban announced last week to include the United States and Russia.
At the same time, Armenia’s parliament passed legislation on Monday that will penalize and punish individuals who do not adhere to the government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the disease, proposing hefty fines and even jail for those whose disregard for the mechanisms causes further spread of the virus.
”Today we registered 41 new cases [of the coronavirus],” said Pashinyan in a late night Facebook Live post, adding that spike in the number of cases in Armenia, as well as where they had originated from posed concerns for the government.
“A citizen working in a factory in Kotayk Province and a citizen working in a factory in Yerevan’s Erebuni district have been tested positive for coronavirus,” said Pashinyan who added that 26 out of 235 coronavirus patients have developed pneumonia “but their health condition is under control. Most of the infected have normal body temperature.’’
The prime minister announced that beginning Tuesday all cafes and restaurants, as well as certain businesses and building construction would be suspended for one week in an effort to slow the infection rate.
”We need some tougher measures and have a stricter approach to the challenges,” said Pashinyan. “Starting tomorrow the operation of all restaurants and cafes will be suspended, there will be exceptions only for delivery services. Some construction works will also stop. The operation of textile factories, a number of light industry branches will also be stopped.’’
He said that food production will continue and grocery stores and supermarkets would continue to operate.
Pashinyan urged citizens to limit their movements and leave their homes only in case of emergencies.
Last week, the government imposed a travel ban to Armenia from 16 countries. On Sunday, the government moved to expand that list, which now includes the United States, Russia and other countries previously not listed.
Restrictions will be imposed on entry for foreign nationals traveling from high-risk countries or those who have visited those countries at least 14 days prior to travel to Armenia.
As of Sunday the travel ban extended to: the United States, Australia, all European Union member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden), Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, China, Iran, Republic of Korea, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Georgia.
According to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, Armenian citizens, their family members and legal residency status holders are permitted to enter the territory of the Republic of Armenia without restrictions.
Citizens of the Republic of Armenia will not be able to leave the territory of the Republic of Armenia by land, with the exception of cargo transport drivers.
Citizens of Armenia and foreign nationals traveling to Armenia will undergo intensive checking procedures at Armenian border checkpoints. In case relevant symptoms are identified, hospitalization, isolation (self-isolation) and/or other restrictive measures will be applied.
All persons traveling from high-risk countries will be transferred to specially designated quarantine locations or may be subjected to mandatory self-isolation.
Armenia’s parliament on Monday backed a government proposal to introduce heavy fines and jail sentences for people who defy the self-isolation and quarantine orders put in place to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
The bill calls for prison sentences ranging from one to five years and fines of between 300,000 and 1 million drams ($600-$,2000) for various types of violation of the confinement orders. The harshest punishment, 3 to 5 years’ imprisonment, is envisioned for cases where a breach of quarantine or self-isolation leads to fatal infections of other individuals.
The bill passed on Monday eases restrictions imposed last week during the declaration of a state of emergency in Armenia that called for only government-sanctioned information to be publicized about the coronavirus.
Initially, the bill stipulated that all media and social media posts regarding the Coronavirus must come from government sources. This measure was immediately decried by opposition politicians, activists and journalists who called it legalization of censorship.
Monday’s version of the bill does not make private individuals violating the social media restrictions liable for fines, but it applies financial penalties for broadcasters as well as print and online media that disseminate unauthorized information about the deadly virus.