Moscow goes into lockdown, rest of Rus­sia braces for same

Orlando Sentinel - - Nation & World - By Vladimir Isachenkov

MOSCOW — The Rus­sian cap­i­tal, Moscow, on Mon­day woke up to a lockdown oblig­ing most of its 13 mil­lion res­i­dents to stay home, and many other re­gions of the vast coun­try quickly fol­lowed suit to stem the spread of the new coronaviru­s.

A stern-look­ing Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin warned his en­voys in Rus­sia’s farflung re­gions that they will be per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for the avail­abil­ity of beds, ven­ti­la­tors and other key equip­ment.

“We have man­aged to win time and slow down an ex­plo­sive spread of the dis­ease in the pre­vi­ous weeks, and we need to use that time re­serve to the full,” Putin said.

Rus­sia so far has been rel­a­tively spared by the out­break, with 1,836 con­firmed cases and nine deaths, but the num­ber of peo­ple test­ing pos­i­tive has risen quickly in re­cent days and author­i­ties are brac­ing for the worst.

Putin has de­clared that only peo­ple em­ployed by es­sen­tial sec­tors should work this week, leav­ing it to re­gional author­i­ties to spell out the de­tails.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin fol­lowed up by or­der­ing Mus­covites to stay home start­ing Mon­day ex­cept for med­i­cal emer­gen­cies and runs to nearby shops.

He said the city will is­sue spe­cial passes for those who need to keep work­ing and track all oth­ers with elec­tronic sur­veil­lance.

“We will steadily tighten con­trols,” Sobyanin told a Cab­i­net meet­ing. “I hope that by the week’s end we will have in­for­ma­tion sys­tems al­low­ing us to fully con­trol cit­i­zens’ move­ments and pre­vent pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions.”

On Tues­day, the Rus­sian par­lia­ment is sched­uled to ap­prove a bill that im­poses prison terms of up to seven years and fines of up to about $25,000 on vi­o­la­tors of the lockdown.

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