Red Square in Moscow. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Putin eases nationwide virus lockdown as Russia becomes 3rd most-infected country

May 11, 2020

President Vladimir Putin has eased Russia’s “non-working” period imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus even as Russia emerges as Europe’s new coronavirus hotspot. 

During the nationwide “non-working” period, all non-essential businesses are required to close and employers ordered to continue paying staff. Apart from this, Putin has largely handed decision-making power on lockdown measures to regional authorities.

“Starting tomorrow, May 12, the non-working period ends for the entire country and for all sectors of the economy,” Putin said in his sixth televised address on the coronavirus.

“But the fight with the epidemic isn’t ending, its threat remains even in territories where the situation is relatively safe,” he added.

Putin extended the regional governors’ authorities during the outbreak and said doctors will have the “final say” on when to lift restrictions.

Earlier Monday, Putin ordered the cabinet and the national coronavirus task force to draft recommendations by Tuesday to gradually lift restrictive measures in Russia’s regions. He ordered the cabinet to provide an “action plan or economic recovery and growth” by June 1.

Moscow’s mayor last week said that industrial and construction companies will be able to reopen starting Tuesday. The service sector will remain under strict lockdown, with restaurants and cinemas expected to be the last to open their doors, he added.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended Moscow’s lockdown through May 31 and ordered residents to wear masks and gloves in public starting Tuesday.

Putin’s “non-working” period has been criticized for what observers say is insufficient support for small and mid-sized businesses required to keep paying employees’ salaries as well as for people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Russia has seen Europe’s highest number of new cases over the past week, reporting more than 10,000 infections daily. As of Monday, 221,344 people have been infected nationwide — the third-highest number worldwide — and 2,009 have died from Covid-19.

 


This article first appeared in The Moscow Times and is republished in a sharing partnership with the Barents Observer. 

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