Coronavirus: Police clash with protesters in Berlin against new COVID-19 restrictions
Authorities promise easing lockdown in case of new infections decline
The Georgian opposition demands the abolition of restrictions imposed by the authorities in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus infection COVID-19. Together with like-minded people from the business sector and the public, opponents of the authorities are holding peaceful protests, including marches during curfews. At the same time, so far, the participants in the night actions, despite being on the street at a time when it is prohibited, have not been detained by law enforcement officers..
Opponents of restrictions have different requirements, some advocate their complete abolition, others — for the abolition of some of the bans introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Opposition politicians supporting these demands say that as a result «wrong lockdown», the country’s economy is on the verge of collapse. Opponents of the ruling power also point to the fact that without the opportunity to work, a certain number of people have found themselves in extreme poverty, and that in an attempt to save the health sector from overloading, the authorities have deprived poor citizens of the opportunity to earn money..
The position of the authorities
In response to the protests, the authorities agreed to meet with business representatives to discuss their demands, although no final agreement has yet been reached. After one of these meetings on January 27, representatives of the shopping centers told the media that the meetings will continue in the future..
As previously planned, retail facilities will resume operation in Georgia from February 1, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays, and regular air traffic with foreign countries will be restored. But the authorities have so far refused to abolish other restrictions, including the operation of public transport and educational institutions, saying that this will entail an increase in coronavirus infection, which will become an unbearable burden on the country‘s health system..
Prime Minister of Georgia Georgy Gakharia stated that once the rate of positive test responses falls below 4%, some restrictions will be lifted. Over the past seven days, this indicator for the country amounted to 5.8%. Gakharia promised first of all to restore the work of transport and open schools.
«We understand very well what it means for students and their parents to stay at home for a long time, as well as the fact that they do not have the opportunity to be physically present in the classroom. As soon as the epidemiological situation allows it, and as soon as the indicator falls below 4%, of course, we will do everything in order to involve an area that is extremely important for our children.», — the prime minister said.
It is noteworthy that according to the results of another study conducted in Georgia in December 2020 by an American non-governmental organization – National Democratic Institute (NDI), 60% of respondents positively assessed the work of the Georgian government in response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, 33% stated that they hold the opposite opinion, and 7% said that — don’t know.
Opponents of the authorities are also unhappy with the prospects for vaccination of the country’s population, arguing that the authorities mainly hope to receive vaccines through an international mechanism. «Kovax» (COVAX) — COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility Initiative, bringing together over 170 countries. Moreover, received through «Kovax» vaccines can provide vaccination only 20% of the population, oppositionists say, while to achieve a result in the fight against coronavirus, it is necessary to vaccinate at least 60% of the population.
The authorities deny the accusations, saying that with the help of Georgian diplomatic missions, negotiations are underway with the producing countries, including the United States, and that several vaccines will be used in Georgia..
It is noteworthy that, as the head of the Georgian Foreign Ministry David Zalkaliani told the media, in November last year, during negotiations in Tbilisi with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the parties discussed the possibility of Georgia receiving an American vaccine.
Interestingly, according to an NDI survey, there is a fairly high number of opponents of COVID-19 vaccinations in the country. So, according to the results of the December poll, 41% of the study participants said that they want to be vaccinated and, if the vaccine is acceptable for children, they would be vaccinated against coronavirus, but 41% of NDI respondents are against vaccination, and 17% said they had not yet decided. At the same time, according to local polls, the number of citizens in Georgia who agree to be vaccinated against coronavirus ranges from 50% to 60%.
Statistics and limitations
In Georgia, since November 28, 2020, strict restrictions have been in force to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in particular, the movement of public and intercity transport has been stopped, clothing stores have been closed and a curfew is in effect throughout the country from 9 pm to 5 am. Also, wearing protective masks has become mandatory not only in enclosed spaces, but also on the streets. As a result, the daily increase in those infected with the coronavirus has dropped significantly. If in November it was about 5,000 infected, then at the end of January the daily figure dropped to 1,000.
In general, as of January 27, 255,564 people have been infected with coronavirus in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, of whom have already recovered — 245,527 and 3,108 died. In this case, active cases — 6.929.