YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan revealed on Tuesday, June 2, that health authorities are urging him to re-impose a nationwide lockdown to stop the accelerating spread of coronavirus in Armenia.
Pashinyan did not rule out such a measure but voiced serious misgivings about it, saying that it could cost the Armenian economy dearly.
“I want to note that the healthcare system keeps telling us that we should impose lockdown restrictions as soon as possible, and the office of the commandant [enforcing the state of emergency in Armenia] discusses that issue on an almost daily basis,” he told a news briefing held outside his official residence.
“But the problem, my dear compatriots, is that we have already gone through a period of restrictions and seen that it brings about very serious, almost disastrous socioeconomic consequences,” he said. “We made 100 billion drams ($206 million) available for social and economic assistance [to citizens and businesses] during that period.”
“But one has to understand that the state’s resources are not unlimited and in case of another lockdown we could end up facing the kind of economic crisis which we would not be able to overcome for many years,” added Pashinyan.
The Armenian government issued stay-at-home orders and shut down most nonessential businesses in late March shortly after reporting the first major outbreaks of the deadly virus in the country. But it began easing those restrictions already in mid-April. They were practically lifted by the beginning of May.