Russia to End COVID-19 Restrictions Amid Surge in Cases

Russia will end its COVID-19-related restrictions nationwide from Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin said, amid a steady surge in the number of confirmed cases taking the overall tally over 221,000.

On Monday, Putin said he had signed a decree ending nationwide paid leave beginning Tuesday and called on regional heads to ease restrictions where possible, reports Xinhua news agency. “From tomorrow, May 12, the period of non-working days ends for the whole country and for all sectors of the economy,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation.

“But the fight against the pandemic is not over. Its danger persists, even in territories where the situation is relatively favourable.” He said Russia was starting to exit “gradually and very carefully” from coronavirus-related restrictions, some of which will be maintained for some territories and enterprises.

Putin asked heads of the country”s regions, wherever it is possible, to give people an opportunity to leave home, go out for walks with children, and engage in individual sports. He called for sectors of the economy – including construction, industry, agriculture, communications, energy and mining – to begin the process of returning to normal starting Tuesday.

Putin said such sectors do not involve direct contact with consumers. But given that the pandemic situation was uneven in such a big country, regional leaders should take flexible measures depending on the local situation, he said.

“The exit or relaxation of restrictions should take place under strict observance of all conditions and sanitary requirements that guarantee people”s safety,” Putin stressed. In particular, mass events will not be allowed throughout the country, Putin said, adding that the self-isolation regime should be maintained for people over 65 and those with chronic diseases.

The President said that work restrictions have negatively affected many sectors of the economy. The number of officially registered unemployed in Russia reached 1.4 million, twice as many as in early April, Putin said.

He asked the government to begin stabilizing the labor market, supporting the unemployed, and minimizing the risks of further unemployment. The Russian authorities have formed and are constantly expanding a list of affected sectors and enterprises and provide them with support at the federal level, so that small and medium-sized businesses and system-forming companies keep their jobs and work teams and do not accumulate wage arrears, Putin said.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in Russia has increased to 221,344, the anti-coronavirus crisis centre reported on Monday. A total of 39,801 people have recovered and 2,009 people have died, TASS news agency quoted the centre as saying on Monday.

Moscow, the worst-hit region, has reported 6,169 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall tally in the capital to 115,909.


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