The Armenian government stepped up on Tuesday its efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, saying that people in Armenia will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food, receive medical care or exercise.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced the nationwide lockdown in the evening as the number of officially registered coronavirus cases in the country rose by 14 to 249. He said one of the persons infected with the COVID-19 virus, a 77-year-old man, is in “extremely grave” and four others in “grave” condition.
In Pashinian’s words, 868 Armenians remained in quarantine and more than 2,400 others in self-isolation. He said 37 other people were released from a two-week quarantine on Tuesday after testing negative for coronavirus.
The premier also announced that four more patients recovered from the virus and were discharged from hospital on Tuesday. Two others were reportedly cured of the disease last week.
“This [lockdown] means that the work of thousands of enterprises will be halted and only vitally necessary entities will be allowed to operate,” Pashinian said in a televised address to the nation. “Our fellow citizens taking to the streets will have to clearly explain where they are going and those explanations must fit into the logic of people’s vital movements.”
“I want to apologize to all of your for these restrictions and inconvenience,” he said. “But I hope it is obvious to all of you that this is done for your safety and the safety of our parents and grandparents: pillars of our national self-consciousness.”
Earlier in the day, a government task force enforcing a coronavirus-related state of emergency in Armenia announced a de facto partial closure of virtually all state agencies. It said only a limited number of their employees will be allowed to go to work.
Acting on Pashinian’s earlier decision announced overnight, the government also ordered the temporary closure of all cafes and restaurants as well as most businesses in the country.
In his latest address, Pashinian urged Armenians to use, if possible, online services provided by state and private entities. He also stressed that food stores, pharmacies and bank offices will remain open and that no restrictions will be placed on agricultural work.
“We are overcoming coronavirus step by step … Rest assured that we will defeat this evil,” concluded Pashinian.