Kazakh Government Offers Incentives for Businesses to Implement Safety Measures As Coronavirus Cases Rapidly Rise in Kazakhstan

NUR-SULTAN – The Kazakh government has introduced plans to include more business enterprises in the Ashyq project and offer more lenient working hours for businesses who follow sanitary measures, as the coronavirus incidence rate has increased by 5.2 times since June. The Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare issued an official statement from the Chief Sanitary Doctor Yerlan Kiyasov on July 29.

Photo credit: Gov.kz. Click on the picture to see the map.

Ashyq, a mobile app that requires people to scan their QR code when visiting public places to display their COVID-19 status as part of the effort to minimize the spread of the virus, is utilized in such places as cafes and restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, beauty salons, spa salons, shopping malls, concert halls, hotels, train stations, interregional buses and others. 

Currently, more than 46,000 businesses are registered in the Ashyq program with the number increasing by at least 1,000 weekly.

In order to encourage businesses to sign up for the Ashyq program and provide a safe environment for their customers, the Kazakh government offers an incentive system that will allow businesses to add more than 20 percent more capacity to businesses if more than 80 percent of their workers are vaccinated. 

Starting from August 9, businesses participating in the Ashyq project that check visitors honestly and regularly, as well as that show high rates of vaccination, will be allowed to operate for longer hours. 

The new incentives are introduced as the country is facing a new wave of coronavirus infection occurring across all regions. 

“At this time, the healthcare system works with a doubled workload in comparison to last year. If last year the incidence rate was 2,000 people per day, this July the growth was more than three times or 6,925 people. The number of patients being treated has also doubled,” said Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Alexey Tsoy at a press briefing on July 28. 

As a temporary measure, starting from August 2, the activities of all enterprises and organizations, regardless of participation in the Ashyq project, in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Atyrau and Karaganda will be suspended. Exceptions include government and law enforcement agencies, healthcare organizations, media, grocery stores and pharmacies. 

In addition to existing red, yellow and green zones, the official statement from the Ministry of Healthcare also announced a new zone of the epidemiological situation in the country – the darker red zone. 

The new zone presents a critical risk level with the rate of occupancy of hospital beds over 70 percent and the rate of occupancy of beds per 100 thousand of the population at over 200. 

From August 2, the activities of all enterprises and organizations, including participants in the Ashyq project, with the exception of government and law enforcement agencies, healthcare organizations, media, grocery stores, pharmacies, will be suspended in the darker red zone. 

No regions in the country are currently in the darker red zone. However, all regions except for the Turkestan region are in the red zone today. The Turkestan region is in the yellow zone. 

Over the past days, the country confirmed 7,778 new cases bringing the total number to 564,885. This does not include the additional 60,584 coronavirus pneumonia cases, as Kazakhstan counts them separately. 

1,639 patients are in severe condition, and 180 patients remain connected to a ventilator.

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