Why is the situation in Armenia more worrisome than in Georgia?
The government extended the state of emergency by 30 days until May 14th at 5:00 PM local time. The deputy prime minister and head of the State of Emergency Command, Tigran Avinyan, also lifted many restrictions on May 4th. Most notably, people were allowed to move about without needing proper documentation.
Here is what we have two months after a state of emergency was declared. Let’s be honest, a large portion of Armenian society does not take the coronavirus seriously. A few days ago, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan visited the rehabilitation unit at the St. Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center. As he passed by the coronavirus patients, people were commenting under his live video, “It’s a lie, we don’t believe it,” “This is fake,” “This is all a business,” “Why aren’t you showing us their faces?”
In addition, the restrictions that were put in place over the past two months did not provide any essential results. The state of emergency was noticeable over the first few days, especially in central Yerevan. However, as someone who lives in central Yerevan, I can confirm that the movement of cars has not stopped, and neither has the movement of people, especially the elderly, without masks and gloves. No one can say that we could have avoided the coronavirus. We are not an exception, and neither are larger countries that are more powerful and developed than Armenia. The issue is how quickly the government responded to the situation and how the government has fought against the spread of the virus. We stopped flights to Armenia very late, which is how the virus spread at first. People who came to Yerevan only had their temperatures checked and they were not forced to remain at home in self-isolation. Armenia has been in a state of emergency since March 16th, but let’s be honest: did we live as though we were in lockdown over the past two months? No. Despite the fact that our society underestimates the seriousness of the virus, the authorities needed to enforce restrictions harshly. The spread of the virus did not slow down.
However, over these past two months, people have made comparisons between how Armenia handled the virus and how Georgia handled it, as well as the differences in numbers. The Georgian authorities did not only impose restrictions, but they also enforced these restrictions harshly, which is how they are in a better situation than Armenia. Several restrictions will remain in place in Georgia until May 22nd, which is when the state of emergency is expected to end. People must wear masks in closed spaces and no more than three people are allowed to be in a vehicle at one time. However, Georgia is preparing to accept tourists despite the virus. The country’s borders will open on July 1st to accept tourists.
On one hand, Armenia does not have a responsible society, and on the other hand, we do not have responsible authorities. Our authorities are facing the challenge of saving Armenia from an economic recession, as are the authorities of other countries. It has been said many times that we should expect to live in these conditions for a long time. The issue here is not only the survival of the economy, which governments need to resolve by supporting businesses, but also raising the level of awareness in society.
The governments of many countries are in a difficult phase. All of them are fighting against the pandemic and they will emerge from this stronger and more powerful. It is not too late. We need to be able to organize our daily lives so that we do not face as many losses. We followed the events as they unfolded, but we did not impose harsh restrictions, which is why we are not in a comforting situation.