EU borders reopen: Many countries easing travel restrictions
Georgia opens borders to five EU countries&# 160;
International observers will be able&# 160; unimpeded&# 160; enter the country and follow the parliamentary elections&# 160;
Georgia from August 1 will open its borders without preconditions to five EU countries – Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, France and Estonia. This means that citizens of these states will be able to freely enter Georgia by filling out a special electronic form in advance. However, they must arrive from their country by direct flight..
“We expect that we will fully control the process, it will not be dangerous for our citizens and we will not have massive internal broadcasts. Based on this, we made a decision that we will have a complete unconditional communication with certain countries, “said the head of the Georgian Ministry of Health Ekaterina Tikaradze in her commentary..
Also, from August 1, business visits to Georgia from all countries are allowed, however, provided that guests visiting Georgia on business will do a PCR test for COVID-19 every 72 hours at their own expense, or alternatively they will undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine which will be paid by themselves.
At the same time, citizens of Georgia, upon entering the country, are required to undergo a two-week quarantine in special hotels at the expense of the state..
It is noteworthy that Georgia closed its borders on March 18 in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection. Today, there are practically no cases of internal transmission of the disease in the country, new cases of COVID-19 are predominantly imported..
Criticism of opponents
The Georgian opposition criticized the decisions of the authorities in relation to citizens returning to Georgia, as well as to visitors to the country. The United National Movement party of Mikheil Saakashvili considers it incomprehensible the criteria by which the countries were selected, which will open the borders of Georgia from August 1.
“For example, we open the borders of France, which had a terrible epidemic, but we leave them closed to Montenegro, where the virus was not widespread. It is unclear why we do not require testing and put the country in front of a serious risk, given that the only criterion for entering the country is only measuring the temperature at the border, ”Roman Gotsiridze, a deputy from UNM, told the media..
The opposition “European Georgia” has questions to the fact that, unlike the citizens of the selected five EU countries, the citizens of Georgia themselves cannot enter the country without a two-week quarantine. This approach, according to the opposition, is discriminatory and contrary to the Constitution..
“It’s absurd to demand quarantine from our citizens returning from a state to which Georgian borders were opened,” Georgy Kandelaki, a deputy from “European Georgia”, told reporters..
Georgian authorities responded by saying that unlike tourists and business travelers from specific EU countries, Georgian citizens will potentially meet with more people. Accordingly, according to the authorities, the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection in the event of their return to their homeland is too high..
As for the so-called “Covid passports”, the Georgian Ministry of Health states that WHO does not recognize such a document, based on the fact that the results of the most reliable test for determining coronavirus infection (PCR test) are valid only for a period of 72 hours.
Elections in a pandemic
However, the main issue in connection with crossing the Georgian border amid a pandemic for the Georgian opposition is related to the conditions for the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 31. Opponents of the authorities suspect that the ruling Georgian Dream will try to use the topic of coronavirus for its own purposes. One of these accusations concerns the arrival of international observers. The opposition suggests that the authorities will try to complicate and disrupt the arrival of international election observers.
In response, the executive secretary of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, said that observers would be able to freely enter the country to follow the parliamentary elections..
“The maximum testing will be carried out, in other cases there will be no obstacles to the work of international observers. Two-week quarantine is excluded, “Kobakhidze said.
In turn, the head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia (NCDC) Amiran Gamkrelidze said earlier that if Georgia maintains the current epidemiological situation, then nothing will interfere with the elections. Although the elections in the context of a pandemic will be held according to the established rules, which experts have already begun to develop.
As of July 10, there were 112 active cases in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, a total of 973 people were infected with the coronavirus, 846 of them have already recovered, and 15 have died. Also on July 10, the Georgian Ministry of Defense reported that the coronavirus was confirmed in 28 Georgian soldiers participating in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. They were taken to Georgia on a special flight several weeks ahead of the scheduled rotation date, and they continued their treatment at a military hospital in the city of Gori..
The situation in neighboring countries is as follows: in Armenia – 30,903 infected with coronavirus, of which 18,709 recovered and 546 died, in Azerbaijan – 22,464 cases of COVID-19, of which 13,591 patients recovered and 284 died, in Russia – 713,936 confirmed cases of the disease, with 489,068 cases of cure and 11,017 cases of fatalities, while in Turkey there are 209,962 infected with COVID-19, of which 190,390 recovered and 5,300 died.