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Armenian Parliament To Discuss Coronavirus Bill


Armenia -- Pedestrians wear face masks in downtown Yerevan, July 10, 2020.

A standing committee of Armenia’s parliament will discuss on Friday a bill that would allow the authorities continue enforcing coronavirus-related safety rules without again extending a state of emergency.

The government approved the bill, drafted by the Armenian ministries of justice and health, last week as it signaled plans to lift the state of emergency which expires on September 11.

The draft amendments to several Armenian laws would empower the authorities to impose a nationwide lockdown, seal off local communities hit by serious coronavirus outbreaks, quarantine infected people and require all citizens to wear masks in public spaces. They also allow other anti-epidemic measures such as a ban on street gatherings or closure of schools in the absence of emergency rule.

The government already lifted last month a coronavirus-related ban on rallies strongly criticized by the Armenian opposition. But it set strict physical distancing requirements for organizers and participants of public gatherings.

Vladimir Vartanian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs, approved of the proposed legal alternative to the state of emergency. He said it is in line with Council of Europe recommendations to member states successfully containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coronavirus cases in our country seem to be falling,” Vartanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I hope that this decrease will continue and will not face a second wave [of infections.]”

The daily number of new confirmed cases in Armenia has shrunk by more than half since mid-July after growing rapidly during the previous three months. The Armenian Ministry of Health said on Thursday morning that 196 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing to 44,271 the total number of cases recorded in the country of about 3 million.

The ministry also reported the deaths of five more people infected with the virus. It said the total number of people killed by the disease thus reached 887. It said 271 other infected persons have died from other, pre-existing conditions.

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