Inter-Agency Coordination Council Discusses Enforcement of COVID Restrictions Coming into Force on November 28, 2020 and New Package of Government Support to Citizens and Businesses Print Version

2020-11-27

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The Inter-Agency Coordination Council led by Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister of Georgia discussed the new package of government support to citizens and businesses, along with the enforcement of restrictions coming into force at 00:00 on November 28, 2020.

Inter-Agency Coordination Council has ruled to restrict the following throughout Georgia from November 28, 2020 through January 31, 2021:

• Mobility of people both in terms of walking and driving as well as a stay in public spaces will be banned from 21:00 to 05:00; Exception will be made on the New Year's Eve and Orthodox Christmas - respectively December 31, 2020 and January 6, 2021;

• Regular inter-city passenger transportation, including by rail, bus and minibus will be banned. Restriction does not apply to light vehicles (including taxis);

• Restaurants and eateries will be entirely transforming to a remote service delivery. Only take-away, delivery and drive through services will be permitted.

• Gyms and swimming pools will suspend operation;

• Any and all types of conferences, training sessions, cultural and entertainment events will be held only online in a remote manner.

• Sports, arts and culture groups/studios will be suspended.

Also, Council has ruled to introduce the following restrictions in large cities and within their administrative boundaries: Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori, Poti, Zugdidi and Telavi, as well as at skiing resorts of Bakuriani, Gudauri, Goderdzi and Mestia:

• Municipal transport will be suspended within the administrative boundaries of Tbilisi, Telavi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori, Poti and Zugdidi;

• Retail shops (except for groceries, pet/animal food, pharmacies, veterinarian drug stores, household chemistry and hygiene stores, press kiosks) will only operate remotely through a delivery service;

• Open and closed markets and fairs will not operate. Only fruit and vegetable markets will remain operational;

• Schools, vocational training centres and higher education institutions (except for health and medicine education programs) will be transformed entirely into a distance learning;

• Private and public kindergartens will suspend operation.

Following will also apply to skiing resorts:

• Operation of hotels will only be permitted as quarantine spaces;

• Skiing tracks and lifts will suspend operation.

In addition, it is worth noting that COVID restrictions will be eased nation-wide from December 24, 2020 through January 2, 2021 and namely:

• Only shopping malls, open and closed fairs and markets will be permitted to operate;

• Municipal and inter-city transport will resume operation.

January 3-15, 2021 has been declared by the Council as public holidays and day-offs throughout the country. All the restrictions that were valid from November 28 through December 24 will be resumed. Also, public institutions and private companies will not operate. Only banks and utilities of strategic importance will remain operational.

As for January 16-31, 2021 the following will apply nation-wide:

• Municipal and inter-city transport will resume operation, along with shopping malls, open and closed fairs and markets (except for the week-ends, when they will remain closed).

• Transport, retail shops and markets will suspend operation on weekends.



COVID restrictions do not apply to the following in the entire period:

• All other economic activities, including the following:

1. Public and private construction and repair works;

2. Banking and financial intermediation;

3. Groceries, pet/animal food stores, pharmacies, veterinarian drug stores, household chemistry and hygiene stores, printed media kiosks;

4. So called delivery and take-away services;

5. Beauty parlours, barber shops and aesthetic medicine centres;

6. Vehicle repair and technical inspection services;

7. Repair services of household appliances;

8. Fruit and vegetable markets;

9. And others.

• Mobility with light vehicles (including taxes) will not be restricted.



In addition, it was noted at the meeting of the Council today that Stage 4 of the Anti-Crisis Plan Designed by the Government of Georgia, which includes a new package of government support to citizens and businesses, will remain targeted similar to the previous three stages.

Total budget of the Citizen Care Program is 545 MLN GEL, while the total number of beneficiaries is over 500 000 persons (numbers do not include the utility bill subsidies).

· Utility bill subsidies will be valid for 4 months (from November through February) and the cost of power energy and natural gas (up to 200 kw/cubic meters) consumed by the population will be incurred from the State Budget. Probable number of beneficiaries will reach 1 million households. Initiative has been budgeted at 270 MLN GEL;

· Social allowance in the value of 1 200 GEL will be paid to individuals who have temporarily lost their jobs in the formal sector. Allowance will be paid during 6 months from January 2021 in monthly installments of 200 GEL. Probable number of beneficiaries is 125 000 persons and initiative is budgeted at 150 MLN GEL;

· Social allowance in the value of 300 GEL will be paid to employees and sole traders who have suspended their operation in December and January due to the enforcement of additional restrictions. Probable number of beneficiaries is 100 000 persons and initiative is budgeted at 30 MLN GEL;

· Social allowance in the value of 600 GEL will be paid to households with the subsistence rating scores from 65 000 through 100 000 from January, payable in monthly installments of 100 GEL on average (depending on the number of people in a household) for 6 months. Probable number of beneficiaries is 72 000 households (about 220 000 people) and initiative is budgeted at 55 MLN GEL;

· Social allowance in the value of 600 GEL will be paid to households with the subsistence rating scores from 0 through 100 000 and 3 or more children aged under 16, payable in monthly installments of 100 GEL for a period of 6 months (January through June). Initiative is potentially applicable to 24 000 households and is budgeted at 15 MLN GEL;

· Social allowance in the value of 600 GEL will be paid to the disabled persons aged under 18 and adults with acute disabilities, payable in monthly installments of 100 GEL for a period of 6 months. Potential number of beneficiaries is 43 000 persons and the initiative is budgeted at 27 MLN GEL;

· Individuals employed at organizations that will suspend operation in December and January will be able to get their bank loan service payments deferred.

As for the business support package, which is budgeted at 515 MLN GEL in total, it includes the following:

· Personal income tax (PIT) will be waived from companies in the portion of 750 GEL from a monthly salary of 1 500 GEL payable to their staff in the period of December 2020 through May 2021. Potential number of beneficiaries is 33 000 companies and their 425 000 employees. Initiative has been budgeted at 260 MLN GEL.

· Property tax will be waived in the tourism sector (assets used in the operation of hotels, restaurants and the like) in 2021. Initiative is budgeted at 45 MLN GEL;

· PIT for 4 months of the year deferred to December 1, 2020 will be waived in the tourism sector (hotels, restaurants and the like). Initiative is budgeted at 20 MLN GEL;

· Bank loan interest will be subsidized for hotels. Initiative will also apply to restaurants for 6 months. Potential number of beneficiaries is 3 700 companies;

· The Micro Grant Program will apply to thousands of new business projects (scheduled for 2020). Initiative is budgeted at 40 MLN GEL;

· The Credit Guarantee Fund will be actively used in 2021, which will assist the private sector in restructuring the current borrowings and in soliciting new loans. Initiative is budgeted at 100 MLN GEL;

· Companies that have suspended operation in December and January will be able to have their bank loans deferred.

Overall, the new support package is budgeted at 1.1 BLN GEL.

In the opinion of the Head of Government of Georgia, the global economic crisis continues in 2021 and it will be quite challenging. Hence, the social and business support package of the government greatly covers citizens and companies that have suspended operation in the referred period and require support most of all.

In addition, the Government of Georgia took a decision to subsidize the prime quality wheat flour, as a result of which the price on bread will not increase. Program will be valid for 4 months till March 31, 2021. Government will monitor the situation at international markets and will take applicable decisions on the grounds of global prices on wheat flour.

Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia noted that the country currently has sufficient stock of wheat and no problem will be experienced towards this end. Government of Georgia has ruled to set a fixed price of 53 GEL for a sack of 50 kg flour of prime quality and state subsidy per sack will be no higher than 10 GEL. Initiative is budgeted at 10 MLN GEL in total.

Also, it was noted at the Coordination Council today that the country is entering a peak threshold of community transfer rate and the current epidemic situation is challenging. Nevertheless, it remains under control. It was once again noted that important preventive measure remains to be the uniform wearing of facemasks and social distancing, which will among other COVID restrictions be strictly enforced by respective institutions.

Since the detection of the first case of COVID, 123 470 cases have been proven positive on the grounds of lab tests, out of which 102 270 individuals have recovered and 1 161 died.

At present 2 114 individuals are in quarantine, 3 863 - at COVID Hotels under a medical supervision and 6 251 at hospitals.

The Inter-Agency Coordination Council led by the Prime Minister of Georgia actively engages the Parliament of Georgia, chaired by MP Archil Talakvadze and Administration of the President of Georgia.

 

Press Service of the Government Administration