Red alert: Moscow begins coronavirus lockdown as Russia regions prepare for confinement

2020-03-30 12:00
Police officers in Red Square in central Moscow amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on 29 March 2020.

Police officers in Red Square in central Moscow amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on 29 March 2020. (Photo by Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images)

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Moscow – Moscow on Monday imposed a lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) as Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin asked regional authorities to make similar preparations.

The enforcement of the tough new rules, which were suddenly announced by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin late on Sunday, coincide with the beginning of a "non-working" week declared by President Vladimir Putin last week.

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Europe's largest city announced the strict new isolation measures after many Muscovites refused to heed official recommendations and self-isolate at the weekend and instead went to parks for barbecues.

On Monday, the streets of Moscow were deserted following the closure of all non-essential shops, including restaurants and cafes, but traffic was still seen on the roads in the city centre.

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"I ask regional heads to work on the introduction of quarantines similar to the one introduced in Moscow," Mishustin said at a government meeting.

Facial-recognition cameras

In a rare televised address last Wednesday, Putin announced that Russians would not be required to go to work this week, but would still get paid.

The country has so far reported 1 534 cases of coronavirus and eight deaths, with more than one thousand infections in the capital.

The new restrictions apply to all of the city's residents, regardless of age.

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Muscovites will only be allowed to leave their homes in cases of a medical emergency, to travel to jobs judged essential, and to shop for food or medicines.

People will be allowed to take out trash and walk their dogs within a 100m radius of their homes.

The new isolation rules, which will be policed by a vast system of facial-recognition cameras in Moscow, come into force as Russia closes its borders as part of increasingly stringent measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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Read more on:    russia  |  lockdown  |  coronavirus
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