New coronavirus regulations have been introduced in Azerbaijan starting on 1 September.
According to the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, citizens over the age of 18 will be required to have a COVID passport to enter restaurants, hotels, large businesses and gyms. Students over the age of 18 studying in higher and secondary special education institutions will also be required to have a COVID passport.
At least 80 percent of employees of government agencies (institutions), all medical and pharmaceutical, scientific and educational institutions should have had their first dose by 1 September 1, and the second dose by 1 October, or have proof of recovery from a coronavirus infection.
The decision to require a COVID passport from everyone attending the wedding has also come into force. As of 1 September, this requirement will be in force at weddings with over 50 participants.
A special quarantine regime has been in place in Azerbaijan since 24 March last year in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. During this period, the regime was periodically tightened or softened.
Following the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers on 26 July, there were long queues in front of clinics and hospitals in Azerbaijan for vaccinations.
MP and economist Vugar Bayramov says that the purpose of the new restrictions is to speed up the vaccination process in Azerbaijan. However, along with the introduction of new rules, there is a need to further strengthen control over their implementation and fully electronic process.
"There is a need to install special equipment that reads electronic COVID-19 passports in all public catering establishments, hotels and large shopping centers."
On the other hand, the MP said that there is a need to strengthen public control over the implementation of the rules:
"In the first months of the pandemic, civil society institutions took an active part in awareness-raising activities, but in the later stages, their activity in this direction decreased. Given the establishment of Public Councils under most government agencies, it would be appropriate for civil society institutions to be actively involved in the process and to conduct monitoring. All this can help speed up the vaccination process. "
According to the Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers, 6.8 million Azerbaijani citizens have been vaccinated at least once. 2.7 million of them are fully vaccinated.
Bayramov said that although Azerbaijan ranks second in the CIS after Kazakhstan in terms of vaccination levels (28.7%), it is still impossible to return to normal life with the current vaccination rate: "In this regard, it is important to accelerate the vaccination process."
As of September 1, a total of 424,891 people had been infected with coronavirus in Azerbaijan, of which 5,636 died.