As a measure to stop the spread of the new
coronavirus, Russia is beginning what President Vladimir Putin called a
The Russian government is urging people to stay at home, though mixed
messaging has left many people confused.
According to officials, the new restrictions could be extended beyond April
5, depending on the health situation.
The number of Russians infected with Covid-19 passed 1,000 on March 27, with
most cases detected in Moscow.
Based on that figure, the Kremlin spokesman has stressed that there is
“de facto no epidemic” here, comparing Russia’s position favorably
with the crisis in Europe.
Whilst state TV’s rolling news channel has changed its name to We’re Staying Home – broadcasting from
presenters’ living rooms – many people are struggling to adjust after its
previous insistence that Covid-19 was a “foreign threat”.
When President Putin announced a
paid week off work for all, there was a rush to book holidays.
The governor of Krasnodar region,
which includes the Black Sea resort of Sochi, had to order the closure of all
shopping centers, parks and restaurants – and limit flights – after hotel
Many Moscow residents have already
headed out of town to their dachas, or summer houses.
In the Russian capital, there has
been a noticeable increase in people in facemasks on the streets since
President Putin’s national address.
Supermarket staff have begun wearing
them and there are bottles of hand sanitizer in coffee shops.
Food stores will remain open, as well as other essential services, but from this weekend cafes and restaurants can offer takeaway only.
Later on March 25, Russia confirmed
the deaths of two people who had been diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
According to Ria Novosti, the 88- and 73-year-olds had pre-existing conditions.
Russia has a total of 658 cases.
President Putin said: “The absolute priority for us is the
health, life and safety of people. Therefore I believe that the vote should be
postponed until a later date.”
He also announced that Russians would not work next week “to slow the
speed” of the infection.
However, the Russian leader warned that it was impossible to prevent any
spread of the virus at all in Russia because of the country’s size.
The Russian economy was also under serious pressure because of the virus, he
During their week off, employees would continue to be paid and key services
would continue, Vladimir Putin said.
The president also announced extended welfare support, including for families
with children and those who had lost jobs.
Russia has already taken measures such as 14-day quarantine for people
arriving from abroad, school closures and warning for elderly people in Moscow
It has also stopped cultural and sporting events and closed gyms, theaters
and nightclubs, although cafes and restaurants have been allowed to stay open.
Russia has so far stopped short of imposing the kind of lockdown seen in
some European countries.
There have been more than 435,000 confirmed cases worldwide. Europe is now the center of the global outbreak.
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