MOSCOW (AFP) – Moscow’s mayor announced strict isolation rules for the city from Monday (March 30), the latest in a series of measures introduced in Russia to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The new restrictions would apply to all the city’s residents, regardless of age, mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a statement on Sunday.
“The extremely negative turn of events that we see in the largest cities in Europe and the USA causes great concern for the life and health of our citizens,” Mr Sobyanin said introducing the new rules.
Residents of the capital will only be allowed to leave their homes in the case of a medical emergency, to travel to jobs judged essential by the authorities, and shop for food or medicines, the statement read.
Previously, only Muscovites over the age of 65 were under orders to remain in their homes under rules that came into force last Monday.
People will be allowed to take out trash and walk their dogs within a 100m radius of their homes, Sunday’s order said.
Muscovites exempt from the rules would be issued with a special pass by city authorities in the coming days, Mr Sobyanin added.
The new isolation rules would be policed by a “smart system of monitoring compliance”, in what appeared to be a reference to a vast system of facial-recognition cameras in Moscow.
“Gradually, but steadily, we will tighten the control necessary in this situation,” said Mr Sobyanin.
INCREASINGLY STRINGENT MEASURES
The new isolation measures will come into force the same day as Russia’s borders close as part of increasingly stringent measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Health officials registered 1,534 cases of coronavirus and eight deaths, according to Sunday’s official tally, with more than one thousand infections in the capital.
The streets of Moscow were eerily quiet last Saturday following the closure of all non-essential shops, including restaurants and cafes, as part of preventative measures.
“Many people think we are far away from what’s happening in Spain or Italy,” Anastasia, a 25-year-old Muscovite told AFP. “But it can happen to us too on the same scale.”
The country closed its borders to foreigners last week and grounded all international flights on Thursday as part of tighter measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Russia.
In a rare televised address on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russians would not be required to go to work next week, to help slow the spread of the virus.
He also postponed an upcoming public vote on constitutional reforms that would allow him to stay in power until 2036, a move critics said was a pretext to allow him to be “president for life”.
Mr Putin also unveiled a series of measures to support Russians and boost the economy, including breaks on consumer loans and mortgage payments.
Mr Sobyanin on Sunday said that due to new measures in Russia’s largest city “unfortunately, many Muscovites will lose their jobs”.
But he also promised that anyone who becomes unemployed as a result of the restrictions would receive 19,500 rubles (S$350) per month.
“Take care of yourself and your neighbours,” said the mayor. “Please stay home.”