The Armenian government has reported a significant decrease in the number of local businesses failing to comply with its safety regulations aimed at minimizing coronavirus infections in the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian, who coordinates the government’s response to the pandemic, said on Tuesday that sanitary authorities fined and/or briefly shut down about 400 private entities for such violations during the first ten days of this month. This is sharply down from 1,339 firms sanctioned in the same period of June, he said.
Despite growing coronavirus cases, the government reopened virtually all sectors of the Armenian economy in early May. It at the same time set concrete operational rules designed to contain the spread of the virus. Shops, cafes, restaurants, manufacturing firms and other businesses are required, among other things, to enforce physical distancing among their employees and customers and to make sure that the latter wear face masks.
An RFE/RL correspondent witnessed on Wednesday numerous violations of these rules during a brief tour of small businesses across Yerevan. In particular, many vendors in the city’s food markets pulled masks under their chins or did not wear them at all.
“I took it off so I can talk to you,” claimed one of them.
“I put it on as soon as a customer approaches me,” said another woman selling agricultural produce.
Wearing a mask or a cloth covering mouth and nose not only in enclosed spaces but also in the streets and all other public areas has been mandatory in Armenia since the beginning of June. Thousands of people have been fined for not complying with this requirement.
Almost 35,700 coronavirus cases have been registered in the country of about 3 million to date. The Armenian health authorities detected 439 of those cases as a result of a smaller-than-usual number of coronavirus tests carried out on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health also reported on Wednesday morning the deaths of 18 more people, including a 59-year-old doctor, infected with COVID-19. It said that the virus was the main cause of 16 of those fatalities, bringing the official death toll to 678.
According to the ministry, 217 other infected Armenians have died primarily because of other, pre-existing diseases.