Safety comes first as Georgia relaxes COVID-19 lockdown

With Swiss and Austrian support, UNDP delivers 23,000 face shields to 23 municipalities

May 25, 2020

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

As Georgia begins to relax lockdown rules imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, citizen safety remains in focus both in Tbilisi and the regions. To help people stay safe as workplaces and shops reopen, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has joined forces with Switzerland and Austria to distribute 23,000 protective face shields to 23 municipalities in the Kvemo Kartli, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti and Guria regions.

The deliveries are part of a larger initiative that has already seen 16,000 face shields distributed to ambulance crews and other front-line emergency workers, with support from the European Union, and 7,500 face shields sent for use in Abkhazia, Georgia, with support from the United States. The protective gear is manufactured by CaucasPack, a local plastic packaging company that swiftly retooled its production to respond to the pandemic, in the process protecting the jobs of 99 company employees.

Under the new initiative, the face shields will be transferred to UNDP’s partner civil society organizations in the 23 targeted municipalities and distributed to civil servants, front-line healthcare workers, vocational teachers and students, volunteers, civic activists, small business operators and vulnerable groups.

“Georgia’s successful response to the pandemic has cleared the way to restart the economy,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “But vigilance is necessary to ensure that efforts to return to normal do not jeopardize people’s health and lives. To stay safe, proper protective gear will be an everyday necessity.”

“Switzerland is a strong supporter of Georgia in its fight against the pandemic,” said Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus. “We are proud to be assisting rural communities, especially in the remote and mountainous municipalities, to protect people from the threat of the virus and to help bring the local economy back to life.”

“People’s lives and livelihoods are the focus of our assistance,” said Dr. Gerhard Schaumberger, Head of Coordination Office for Technical Cooperation of the Austrian Embassy in Tbilisi. “We are reaching out to the most vulnerable communities and national minorities.”  

UNDP has been working since the earliest days of the coronavirus outbreak, in partnership with the Government, donors and other partners, to extend support to vulnerable and marginalised groups.

With guidance from the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, UNDP has worked through local and regional development programmes funded by Switzerland and Austria to undertake an information campaign in Georgia’s rural and remote municipalities involving the distribution of leaflets and posters on COVID-19 prevention and stickers for marking social distancing; to ensure the accessibility of the Government’s official website and other informational materials for people with disabilities and national minorities; and to distribute protective gear and sanitary supplies. 

Media contacts: