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Kazakhstan rolls out app to control access to public areas

By Reuters

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kazakhstan is rolling out an app which it hopes will limit the spread of COVID-19 by restricting people’s access to places such as bars, cinemas and airports based on their vaccination and infection risk status.

The Ashyq (Open) app assigns each user a red, yellow, green or blue status based on whether they have been vaccinated, or been in contact with an infected person. Users must scan a QR code with the app before entering a public place.

The app has been met with mixed reactions – while some acknowledge its potential usefulness, many are frustrated by the long queues it sometimes causes.

The airport of the Central Asian nation’s biggest city, Almaty, will start using it from Friday after a few days of tests. The app is mandatory for cinemas and theatres and its deployment allows restaurants and bars to stay open until 2am instead of closing at 10pm.

Those with red or yellow status, which is assigned to those currently infected with COVID-19 or who have been in contact with a positive case, will not be able to enter most areas.

Blue status individuals are those with no sign of contact with a suspected case and they have almost full access to sites. Green status is temporarily assigned to those who have had a negative PCR test, or permanently assigned after vaccination.

Almost 2 million people in the oil-rich former Soviet republic of 19 million have so far received a first dose of the vaccine – mostly Russia-developed Sputnik V – and over 800,000 have received both jabs.

(Reporting by Pavel Mikheyev; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)