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Azerbaijan to begin gradually lifting quarantine restrictions


Azerbaijan to begin gradually lifting quarantine restrictions

Baku during quarantine
Photo: JAMNews

Azerbaijan will begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions today, as the country seeks to gradually restart its economy.

Azerbaijan’s national quarantine, initially imposed on March 24, was extended in mid-April to May 4, but the country’s slowing infection rate has prompted the government to approve a gradual lifting of restrictions. With a population of nearly 10 million, Azerbaijan has only reported 1,600 cases. While schools will remain closed, many small businesses will be allowed to open.

The decision is welcomed by a faltering Azeri economy, which is reportedly losing an average of $80 million per day during the shutdown. Revenues from crude oil, which made up over 80% of Azeri exports in 2017, have dropped significantly in April. The country has avoided a more drastic GDP decline by selling central bank foreign exchange reserves, but this approach cannot cushion the economy indefinitely.

Azerbaijan’s gradual lifting of restrictions aims to initiate a stable economic recovery while avoiding a second wave of infections. Government officials have assured that any resurgence in cases, even after the quarantine ends on May 4, will be answered by an appropriate re-tightening of regulations. If all goes as planned, Azerbaijan could slowly but safely emerge from the crisis, becoming a regional model for appropriately balancing economic recovery with public health.

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