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Lockdown Eased, but “No Reason to Relax” Says Health Minister 

State of exception (emergency) commandant Tigran Avinyan has made decisions by which restrictions to freedom to movement and temporary ban over many economic activities are eased starting April 23. Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan, however, claims that decisions are made on a daily basis and there is still much uncertainty about the dynamics of COVID-19 spread, therefore there is “no reason to relax.”

Checkpoints between regional administrative units are lifted, as part of the new decision, while ad hoc restrictions may be applied to settlements with a high risk of virus spread. Residents are warned to still remain at home and leave it only for most essential needs and work while carrying their IDs and movement forms. Public transport remains closed.

Economic activities are resumed in certain manufacturing areas, including printing, construction material production, industrial machinery installation, agricultural chemical production. Some retail and wholesale commerce is also resumed, as are real estate activities and professional and research work in natural and engineering sciences. Labor unions are also allowed to resume work. Enterprises engaged in apparel and shoe production, electronic manufacturing and furniture production, as well as sports centers are allowed to write claims to be exempted from restrictions. The state of exception commandant will review the claims and make appropriate decisions.

In the meanwhile, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan claims that we have no reason to relax, as 1523 people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, only 659 are cured and discharged, 24 have died. “We still have 10 patients in a critical condition, 5 intubated, 230 patients with pneumonia, a total of 840 patients hospitalized.” The speed of virus spread is more or less the same, however the government does not yet have a problem of hospital beds and all patients, including with mild symptoms are either hospitalized or placed in make-shift hotels. “While restrictions are eased, it seems that the country may go back to normal, however a second wave may be expected, which means uncertainties remain great all over the world… Often, decisions are made on a daily basis,” said Torosyan.

The government has ramped up testing in the country, now around 1000-1500 tests are conducted daily, as opposed to 100-300, due to the spread of outbreak spots. Health Minister Torosyan had earlier stated that control over the outbreak spots has been lost as the virus spreads beyond these spots.