Armenia Lifts Coronavirus State of Emergency but the Protective Measures Remain

On September 11, the Armenian government lifted the state of emergency declared in March 2020. At the same time, the government introduced a nationwide “quarantine” regime instead, which will allow for protective measures to continue. These include  wearing face masks in all public areas, self-isolation as required, as well as social distancing and hygiene rules for businesses.

The new regime will remain in force until January 11, 2021. This regime is defined by a government order, based on the legislative amendments passed by the Armenian parliament in early September. In particular, amendments to laws “On Ensuring Sanitary-Epidemiological Safety of the RA Population” and “On Protection of Population in Emergency Situations” provide authorities with a right to impose nationwide or local lockdowns, restrict educational activities and public gatherings if necessary, and isolate infected people. The amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code on Administrative Offences impose penalties for violating the quarantine regime or other restrictions set by authorities.

The amendments were aimed at avoiding another extension of the state of emergency, as the number of coronavirus cases registered in the country has been declining in recent weeks. In last months, the government already lifted several restrictions that had been introduced with the state of emergency, such as restrictions on free movement and some types of economic activity, mass media limitations, and the ban on public assemblies. It should be noted that the prohibition of assemblies was lifted only a month ago, at the same time setting strict social distance requirements for organizers and participants of gatherings along with the mandatory wearing of face masks. These restrictions on gatherings and assemblies remain in force also under  the new regime of quarantine for another four months.[AJT1] 

In any case, the new regime has less strict requirements as compared to the state of emergency. The public schools and universities have reopened mid-September, all businesses can now operate, and cultural events are allowed with the condition of keeping protective measures. The phone tracking system introduced in the Law on the State of Emergency in late March, heavily criticized by civil society, is no longer operating in the new regime.