Speaking in the Yerevan studio of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Avanesian said the extraordinary measure may be needed to increase the very low vaccination rate in the country of about 3 million.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Health, just over 344,000 people received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and only 170,212 of them were fully vaccinated as of October 10.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian deplored these “very bad” numbers last week and said the authorities must rely on their “administrative levers” more heavily to speed up the vaccination process.
Avanesian said her ministry is now looking into the experience of Western countries where people must produce the health pass showing they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test in order to visit bars, restaurants and other public venues.
“We are working on that,” she said, answering questions from Facebook users. “We are collecting facts about what enforcement mechanisms should be put in place.”
“A tentative draft decision will be ready soon, within two weeks,” added the minister.
The government has already taken other administrative measures in a bid to have many more Armenians get vaccinated. A recent directive signed by Avanesian requires virtually all public and private sector employees refusing vaccination to take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense.
The requirement took effect on October 1, prompting protests from some opposition politicians and anti-vaccine campaigners.
Avanesian again defended it. She argued that Armenian hospitals are increasingly struggling to cope with a new wave of coronavirus infections that began this summer.
The Ministry of Health has reported an average of over 1,000 cases and at least 20 coronavirus-related deaths a day over the past week.