The ban took effect on Thursday 17 days after government-backed Azerbaijani protesters blocked Karabakh’s sole land link with Armenia used for importing some basic foodstuffs, drugs and other essential items.
Karabakh restaurants are no longer allowed to serve meals for groups of 15 or more people, and post-funeral receptions held there can be attended by up to 35 persons. Also, no restaurant can stay open after at 11 p.m.
The restrictions are designed to further cut the consumption of imported food which is increasingly in short supply in Karabakh.
Sergei Shahverdian, who runs a restaurant complex in Stepanakert, said it has been operating along these lines “since the first day of the blockade.”
“We have cancelled all planned events,” Shahverdian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Already last week, shops and markets across Karabakh ran out of imported foodstuffs such as cooking oil, sugar and potatoes. They are unable to restock these staple items due to the continuing blockade.
Karabakh is also struggling with a serious shortage of medicines. It received late last week about 10 tons of various drugs shipped from Armenia by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“We mostly got first-aid medication … The quantity is too low,” said a Karabakh health official.
The Azerbaijanis who blocked a section of the Lachin corridor on December 12 are demanding that Baku be allowed to inspect “illegal” ore mines in Karabakh and assess their environmental impact. The authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert have condemned the blockade as a gross violation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement that placed the corridor under the control of Russian peacekeepers.
The Karabakh government announced on Wednesday that production operations at Karabakh’s sole functioning copper and molybdenum mine will be suspended pending an “international ecological examination” requested by it.
Representatives of Karabakh’s major political factions insisted on Thursday that this is not a concession made to Baku.
“This is a manifestation of our good will, not a concession,” said Artur Mosiyan, a leader of the local branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
Both Mosiyan and Davit Galstian of the opposition Justice party told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the Karabakh Armenians still have no plans to give Azerbaijani officials access to the Kashen mine.