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>> GEORGIA SAYS IT DELAYS REOPENING TO FOREIGN TOURISTS TO AUG. 1 (JULY 1)
— By June 5, Georgia had 953 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 15 deaths, one of the lowest infection rates in the world. Georgia has been praised by Western experts for having such a low death rate.
— Georgia lifted a lockdown and a state-of-emergency at the end of May that had imposed travel restrictions and curfews around the country.
— As well as closing its borders and airports, the Georgian lockdown had closed its main cities, imposed a nighttime curfew, shut shops and restaurants. Some borders have reopened, but Georgia’s border with Armenia, among others, is still closed.
— Economists have said that the closing down of Georgia’s increasingly important tourism industry will have one of the largest and most significant impacts on its economy. Georgian officials had wanted to open its borders to foreign tourists from July 1 but this has been delayed by a month. Officials said that there were too many coronavirus cases in neighbouring countries to reopen again safely.
— The EBRD said that Georgia’s economy will shrink by 5% this year because of the impact of the coronavirus (May 14).
— The Georgian lari has lost around 15% of its value since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, despite the Central Bank selling off hundreds of millions of dollars of its reserves to try to prop it up.
— Georgia’s two main banks, Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank, have lost around half their values on the London Stock Exchange since the lockdowns were imposed.
— Orthodox priests took to the streets of Georgia’s town blessing people and praying for the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease to be defeated (March 17). The Georgian Orthodox Church has refused to suspend church services. Hundreds of people attended Easter services in Georgia on April 19 despite government advice urging them not to because of the risks of contracting the coronavirus.
— Global health experts and diplomats have praised Georgia’s swift response to the coronavirus, calling it a success story. Part of the swift response by the Georgian authorities has involved using the Lugar Laboratories which Russia has previously said is part of a biochemical war being waged by the US.