March 24, 2020 / 3:48 PM / 5 days ago

Armenia closes down enterprises, bans outdoor movements without passport - PM

FILE PHOTO: People, wearing protective masks as a preventive measure during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walk past flowering trees in a street in Yerevan, Armenia March 23, 2020. Hayk Baghdasaryan/Photolure via REUTERS

YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia shut down almost all businesses for at least a week and placed restrictions on free movement on Tuesday, leaving only grocery stores, pharmacies and banks open as it tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said only people over the age of 65 would be able to go shopping between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. each day and banned people from walking on the streets without their passport.

Parliament on Monday introduced fines of up to $1,400 and enabled criminal proceedings against those who violate self-isolation rules.

Armenia, a country of around 3 million people, had reported 249 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, the highest number among countries in the South Caucasus region. Four patients recovered.

The former Soviet republic declared a state of emergency last week until April 14 and has postponed a referendum on changes to its Constitutional Court.

Under the state of emergency, all educational institutions, shopping malls, cinemas, casinos and clubs have been closed, while public events and mass gatherings have been banned.

Countries across the world have clamped down to hold back the virus, causing business activity to collapse.

Confirmed cases around the world exceeded 377,000 across 194 countries and territories as of early Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, more than 16,500 of them fatal.

Reporting by Nvard Hovhannisyan; writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Alexander Marrow and Alison Williams

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