Moscow goes into lockdown, rest of Russia braces for same
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.