Not all entrepreneurs in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan resumed work in good faith. However, despite the violation of sanitary standards, experts think the resumption of production is needed to mitigate consequences of the crisis.
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From June 1, Kazakhstan has eased lockdown restrictions by removing all interregional checkpoints, resuming railway transportation, as well as the operation of preschool institutions and culture and sports facilities.
At the same time, tax and customs checks have been resumed for entrepreneurs. Enterprises in Almaty and Nur-Sultan resumed operation on April 20 upon compliance with safety measures, after the inspection and statement of the working group confirming their readiness and compliance with all sanitary and epidemiological requirements.
“Trading and service enterprises that provide a door to door delivery of non-foods, stores selling agricultural equipment and spare parts, as well as service stations, tire centres, advertising agencies, car washes, car showrooms have to be inspected. After we receive an application, our working committees with participation of sanitary doctors will visit such places on the same day. We’ll be monitoring these facilities,” Saparbek Tuyakbaev, deputy akim of Almaty, said.
The similar requirements apply to enterprises all over the country.
Director of dry cleaning Bibigul Salmagambetova said they opened in April, when the authorities let resume production.
“On the first day, we had crowds of clients. We provide services and observe safety precautions. If we didn’t open in April, we wouldn’t open at all – all workers spent all their money. After we opened, we are being inspected every day,” Salmagambetova said.
On May 12, beauty salons and educational centres were permitted to resume work.
“Now it’s a difficult period, many people lost their income. We were not ready for anything like that. It’s sad that the beauty sphere was moved to the last stage. As for me, I had many plans for this summer. But I will have to revise them,” Aigulya Batalova, owner of the beauty salon, complained.
After a long-term lockdown, opened enterprises and markets have crowds of clients. According to Almat Dzhunusov, director of the Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Nur-Sultan, all entities must comply with sanitary requirements once they start working. For example, cafes, canteens and restaurants must organise eating and rest according to a schedule that prevents simultaneous gathering of employees.
“We should keep the distance between tables at least two metres, only two seats per one table should be available or 4 seats in staggered order. If disposable dishware is used, it should be collected and utilised, if reusable dishware is used, it should be treated in special dishwashing machines at a temperature not below 60 degrees,” Dzhunusov said.
Also, mobile groups of akimats together with the police and epidemiologists make everyday raids to detect violations of sanitary requirements.
On June 1, the akimat of Nur-Sultan reported that over 70 facilities in the capital city were closed due to violation of sanitary requirements – cafes, restaurants, beauty salons, dentistry’s, flower shops. Before that, about 50 facilities were closed, and 150 enterprises received their warnings.
Chief sanitary officer Zhandarbek Bekshin said at the briefing on June that after the inspection, 65 enterprises received administrative sanction, and 39 enterprises were suspended.
In Eastern Kazakhstan region, 336 facilities were inspected and 435 violations of sanitary requirements were identified – not wearing masks and non-compliance with social distancing policy. Some enterprises did not have personal protective equipment at all, according to the department of quality control and goods and services safety. The same situation is across all Kazakhstan.
In Kyrgyzstan, various enterprises started operations gradually from May 1. The first to start operations were industrial, production and construction companies, as well as tyre centres, service stations and retail stores.
Financial and consumer service enterprises opened in the middle of May. From May 25, public transportation, public catering, cultural and sports facilities resumed work in Bishkek. From June 1, enterprises that produce and sell consumer goods and food products, audit companies, as well as holiday hotels, resorts, historical objects etc. are allowed to work.
However, all entrepreneurs were warned that they should comply with safety rules. Otherwise, they would be fined.
At the briefing of the government on June 1, Vice Mayor of Bishkek Aziz Alymkulov said that companies were inspected since May 14 and 447 reports of violations were issued in the amount of 983.5 thousand som (13.38 thousand dollars).
“The priority of the mayor’s office of Bishkek is not to impose fines on all business entities, but to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the territory of Bishkek by making business entities comply with sanitary and epidemiological rules,” Alymkulov said.
According to ex-deputy minister of economy of Kyrgyzstan, Eldar Abakirov, many sectors of economy found themselves at a risk due to forced isolation and coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve read the analysis by a British company recently. They have analysed which sectors faced losses because of the crisis, which ones won, which ones remained at the same level. Service industry faced losses – travel sector, spa, stadiums, restaurants, cafes, all retail stores but food industry, sewing sector. At least half of the population of Kyrgyzstan was at a risk,” Abakirov said.
Food stores, enterprises and productions, as well as pharmaceutical sector have benefited from the crisis. Those entrepreneurs who managed to readjust and go online also benefited or at least remained at the same level.
After removal of restrictions on movement at Bishkek, the number of cases increased. Not all entrepreneurs and citizens keep the distance and follow safety measures. However, according to Abakirov, easing of lockdown measures and resumption of production are needed to overcome the crisis.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project.