Hundreds of people in Georgia protest against coronavirus restrictions

This content was published on April 22, 2020 - 17:29

TBILISI (Reuters) - Hundreds of people in the Marneuli region of Georgia protested on Wednesday against restrictions imposed by the authorities to stem the spread of the coronavirus as parliament extended a state of emergency until May 22.

The South Caucasus country of 3.7 million has so far reported 411 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with five deaths.

Defying a ban on public gatherings of more than three people, the protesters packed into a square in the village of Shulaveri to complain about being unable to sell their farm produce and to demand an end to the lockdown.

Policemen in face masks stood nearby, watching the hours-long protest. Some protesters blocked a road and prevented trucks from passing.

Regional governor Shota Rekhviashvili and other officials promised to increase the number of distribution companies which buy fresh food from local producers.

The southern regions of Marneuli and Bolnisi, which border Azerbaijan, have been in lockdown since March 23 after a local woman was diagnosed as having COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, after attending a family event.

A majority of people in the two regions are ethnic Azeris.

Georgia's state of emergency entails a night curfew from 9 pm till 6 am, closures of restaurants, cafes and most shops and a suspension of public transport. Grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations remain open.

(Reporting by Irakli Gedenidze in Marneuli and Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; editing by Gareth Jones)

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