YEREVAN — The Armenian government lifted on Friday a state of emergency declared six months ago while keeping in place safety rules designed to prevent coronavirus infections in the country.

The government introduced a nationwide “quarantine” regime which will allow it to continue requiring Armenians to wear face masks in all public areas and enforcing social distancing and hygiene rules for businesses.

The new regime, which will remain in force until January 11, stems from a government bill which was passed by the Armenian parliament last week and signed into law by President Armen Sarkissian on Thursday.

The bill also empowers relevant authorities to impose nationwide or local lockdowns, seal off communities hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, close Armenia’s borders and isolate people infected with the disease. The authorities can also ban or restrict public gatherings.

The government drafted the bill to avoid extending the state of emergency again on September 11. The move came amid a steady decline in coronavirus cases registered in the country.

The daily number of new cases reported by the Armenian Ministry of Health varied from 108 to 177 in the course of this week, sharply down from an average of 550-600 cases a day registered in the first half of July. There has been a similar drop in coronavirus-related deaths, which have totaled 1,189 since the start of the pandemic, according to the ministry.

The government also decided to reopen all schools and universities shut down in March. Classes there will resume on September 15.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stressed on Thursday the importance of continued enforcement of the remaining safety rules, warning of the risk of a “second wave” of COVID-19 infections.

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