Managing the Challenges of COVID-19 Government Actions Evaluation Report
14 July, 2020
The government actions prevented a large-scale spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. It would not be justified to say that the government managed to achieve these results at the expense of massive violations of human rights, however, the process was marred by certain shortcomings.
In the process of combating the pandemic, the role of the legislative body was considerably limited while the powers of the government were increased. With the powers vested in the government:
- The rules of isolation and quarantine were established;
- The scope of powers of the Internal Affairs Ministry was increased as a result of introduced restrictions;
- The time limits for releasing public information were suspended;
- The rules of using public services were altered;
- The education and work process became remote;
- For a certain period of time, the movement of vehicles was restricted;
- The use of cars by more than three persons was banned as well as riding in the front passenger seat next to driver;
- A curfew was introduced between 21.00 and 06.00 hours;
- Persons aged 70 years and older were prohibited from leaving their homes;
- An obligation to wear face masks in closed spaces was introduced;
- Assembly of initially more than 10 and then more than three persons in public spaces was banned;
- For a certain period of time, all economic activity was suspended with some exceptions.
The following merits positive assessment:
- The government carried out measures against the novel coronavirus in a timely manner, gradually tightening the restrictions. The restrictions were gradually lifted in accordance with the existing situation;
- The decisions concerning the imposition of particularly strict measures were made based on the consideration of epidemiological situation on specific territories;
- The information about the epidemiological situation and tightening or loosening the restrictions was constantly provided to journalists and the public;
- The government was actively holding consultations with corresponding professionals;
- Internal transmission in the country never became large-scale.
The following merits negative assessment:
- During the state of emergency, parliamentary oversight of the executive government was only formal;
- Risks of abuse of power increased as a result of granting the executive government broad discretion with regard to restrictions on human rights and freedoms;
- Some of the government actions were of selective nature while some restrictions were unsubstantiated and disproportionate;
- Strictly determined amounts of fines for the violation of the state of emergency rules did not allow to assess individual circumstances and rendered impossible the imposition of corresponding sanctions;
- There were no effective mechanisms of appealing against placing a person in quarantine;
- At the initial stage of the virus spreading, serious problems were recorded in terms of communication with ethnic minorities and foreigners living in Georgia;
- The amendments made to the Law on Public Health towards the end of the state of emergency contradict the principles of the Constitution.