Will the Cabinet Extend the Quarantine Again?

The special quarantine regime in Azerbaijan, initiated four years and three months ago in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to end on July 1 at 06:00. However, many analysts predict that the Cabinet of Ministers might once again extend the quarantine measures, as has been done repeatedly over the years.

Despite a series of easing measures, several restrictions remain in place, notably the closure of land borders. In March, the government extended the quarantine citing ongoing threats from the coronavirus, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic over on May 5 of last year. In recent years, government officials have also cited security considerations when discussing these measures.

The Cabinet's decision on whether to lift restrictions, particularly on land borders, remains uncertain. Fazil Mustafa, a member of the Milli Majlis Committee on Human Rights, admitted in an interview with Turan that while the government's official stance hinges on coronavirus risks, other factors might be at play.

"Security concerns, regional war conditions, and other considerations may influence this decision," Mustafa noted. He suggested that instead of a complete border closure, the government should consider easing restrictions, particularly for students, patients, and travelers, given the reduced risk of coronavirus.

The prolonged closure of land borders is increasingly seen as inconvenient and unpopular among citizens. Mustafa emphasized the need for more balanced measures to mitigate these impacts.

Political commentator Nasimi Mammadov claims in an interview with Radio Azadlig that the WHO's declaration indicates that the pandemic threat has diminished globally. "Keeping borders closed for pandemic reasons is illogical now. The persistent closure likely stems from political considerations rather than health concerns," Mammadli asserted. He speculated that the closures might be related to regional developments or internal security concerns.

Mammadli also suggested that the government might be using these restrictions to test societal compliance. "There seems to be an attempt to acclimate society to these restrictions, and unfortunately, society appears to be adapting," he observed.

Independent economists propose another rationale for the continued border closures: economic protectionism. They argue that the government might be trying to curb the outflow of currency by preventing citizens from shopping in neighboring countries like Iran, Georgia, and Russia, where goods are often cheaper. Before the pandemic, many Azerbaijanis sought medical treatment in these countries, a practice now restricted without official permission.

A Brief History of the Quarantine

The coronavirus pandemic began in late 2019, with the WHO declaring it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The virus spread rapidly worldwide, causing approximately 7 million deaths. In Azerbaijan, over 830,000 infections and 10,400 deaths have been reported. However, infection rates have significantly declined in recent years.


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