COVID-19: Azerbaijan Makes Masks Mandatory; Kazakh Restaurant Owners, Employees Demand Restrictions Be Lifted
By RFE/RL June 03, 2020
The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 380,000 with more than 6.4 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.
President Ilham Aliyev has signed a law making it mandatory for Azerbaijanis to wear face masks while in public places as of June 3.
The president signed the bill on June 2, just hours after it was approved by lawmakers.
Violators of the regulation will be fined 50 manats ($30), while officials violating the law will be obliged to pay 100 manats ($60). Companies and organizations who break the law will be fined 200 manats ($120).
The fines will double for repeated violations.
As of June 3, the number of officially registered coronavirus case sin the South Caucasus nation was reported as 5,935, including 71 deaths.
Dozens of restaurant owners and their employees have rallied in front of the city administration office in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, demanding that all coronavirus restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector be lifted.
The protesters said on June 3 that, since all market places and shopping malls have been allowed to return to full capacity, large restaurants and cafeterias should be allowed to do the same.
The city government has gradually lifted restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but restaurants are still limited to having a maximum of 30 clients inside their premises at any one time. The protesters said this is preventing them from recovering from the two-and-a-half-month suspension of their operations during the outbreak.
A similar protest was also held on June 3 in the northwestern city of Aqtobe.
Kazakh health authorities said on June 3 that the total number of coronavirus cases in the country was 11,796, including 44 deaths.
In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Deputy Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov said on June 3 that domestic air flights and public transportation between regions will resume on June 5.
"The organization of bus and taxi transportation must be safe. We have to be absolutely sure that all passengers comply with all sanitary regulations," Boronov said.
According to the latest data provided by Kyrgyz health officials, the number of coronavirus cases in the country is 1,871, including 20 deaths.
In Uzbekistan, the Health Ministry said on June 3 that the number of coronavirus cases in the country was 3,769, including 15 deaths. The ministry added that 846 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in hospitals, 10 of whom are in serious condition and one in grave condition.
In Tajikistan, the Health Ministry said on June 2 that in the past week there had been no coronavirus deaths in the country. According to the ministry, as of the evening of June 2, the number of coronavirus cases in the country was 4,100, including 47 deaths.
The fifth nation in Central Asia, Turkmenistan, remains the only country in the region that has not officially admitted a single coronavirus case, though experts are skeptical of the claim given the lack of transparency and the absence of an independent media in the country.
The U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan announced on June 1 that Washington had allocated an additional $500,000 via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to assist Ashgabat's coronavirus prevention efforts, "bringing the total U.S. Government resources made available to all partners in Turkmenistan to $1.42 million."
"The additional funding will be provided to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Turkmenistan to improve risk communication and infection prevention and control efforts," the statement said.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Tajik, and Turkmen services
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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