Armenia reopens bars and shops despite rising coronavirus cases

YEREVAN (Reuters) – Landlocked Armenia will reopen shops, restaurants and bars, resume manufacturing and lift restrictions on movement from Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said, despite a recent rise in confirmed infections.

The South Caucasus country has registered 2,386 cases of the coronavirus and 35 deaths, with the number of infections rising from an average of 50 a day in mid-April to more than 100 in recent days, including 134 registered on Wednesday.

Armenia, with a population of 3 million, has been looking to ease the hit on its economy which it expects to shrink by 2% in 2020.

Smaller shops, beauty salons and dry cleaners will open on Monday, Avinyan said on social media, adding that the construction and manufacturing industry would also be allowed to work as normal.

But malls, trade centres, markets and all schools and colleges will remain closed. Public transport is to remain suspended.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said last week the country was preparing to lift most restrictions and ease the pressure on the economy subject to the spread of the virus.

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