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Georgia Tightens State Of Emergency With Ban On Driving Private Vehicles

Georgian government spokesman Irakli Chikovani announces ban on driving as additional pandemic restriction.

Georgia has announced a nationwide ban on driving cars and other private vehicles beginning at noon on April 17 as an additional measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The ban will last until April 21, said government spokesman Irakli Chikovani. It excludes freight transport vehicles and delivery cars.

Chikovani said the decision was made to mitigate “the active stage of the virus spread” and because of “intensive traffic” despite restrictions. He also predicted a significant rise in the number of cases in the coming weeks and reiterated the government’s appeal to citizens to stay at home.

The country has reported 348 cases of infection by the virus and three deaths from COVID-19, the disease it causes, according to the Johns Hopkins University database.

Georgia already is under a state of emergency set to last until May 10. It includes a curfew starting at 9 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open, but nonessential shops along with restaurants, cafes, and petrol stations have been closed.

Chikovani warned that unless Georgians observe state-of-emergency restrictions, the government might have to beef up lockdown measures by imposing a “complete quarantine.”

Two additional measures that take effect on April 17 are a requirement to wear face masks inside all buildings open to the public and the closure of public cemeteries, Chikovani added.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax.