Armenia declares one-month state of emergency for coronavirus

YEREVAN (Reuters) – Armenia on Monday declared a state of emergency until April 14 to slow the spread of coronavirus, and postponed a referendum on changes to the Constitutional Court until after the emergency.

As of Monday, Armenia, a country of 3 million people, had reported 30 coronavirus cases, with more than 380 people in quarantine.

All educational institutions will shut until the end of the emergency, while the borders with neighboring Georgia and Iran will be closed, the government said.

Foreigners from countries with a high incidence of coronavirus will be barred from entering, while Armenian citizens will be able to leave only by air. Goods transport will continue.

Public events and mass gatherings with over 20 people are also banned.

The state of emergency requires parliamentary approval, and is expected to receive it.

The referendum, which had been planned for April 5, is due to decide on the suspension of seven judges who were appointed before a peaceful revolution against corruption and cronyism brought Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to power two years ago.

Armenia’s neighbor Georgia said it would ban all foreigners from entering for two weeks from March 18 in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Georgia has confirmed 33 cases, the highest number in the South Caucasus region. Two patients have recovered while 637 people are in quarantine.

Many restaurants, cafes and bars in the capital Tbilisi closed their doors on Monday, on government advice.

Winter resorts in the country of 3.7 million, a popular tourist destination, will shut down from Tuesday.

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