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Moscow sheds almost all coronavirus curbs

By Ren Qi in Moscow | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-24 10:51

An employee wearing a protective face mask and gloves picks up a tray of food from a cubby, which opens automatically with a facial recognition system, at a KFC restaurant offering contactless service, ahead of its opening following the easing of restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia June 21, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Moscow lifted almost all movement restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday even as the daily number of new cases remains high in the Russian capital.

Cafes, restaurants, swimming pools and gyms and other sports complexes began to reopen after being closed for three months. Libraries and preschools are also operating again, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced in a blog post, adding that tour cruises on the Moscow River will also resume.

Amid the economic hardships from the city's lockdown, social welfare facilities also began to reopen.

Sobyanin said officials had taken into account the gradual reopening of Russia's regions and the start of the holiday season in deciding to lift the main limitations on the operation of travel agencies. But guided tours of the city are still banned.

Moscow on March 5 introduced an alert system to help manage its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Restrictions began to be gradually eased in the middle of May when the city government said that the situation had improved.

The first to open were industrial facilities, construction sites, integrated centers providing government services and retail outlets. On June 9, Moscow canceled the main lockdown requirements, including the set times for residents' daily strolls and their use of public transport.

On June 16, it was the turn of dental clinics, libraries, museums, zoos and sports competitions. Cafes were allowed to reopen if they have outdoor space.

Social distancing required

Although the city lifted almost all of its remaining restrictions on Tuesday, Moscow residents are still required to keep social distancing and wear face masks and gloves, the mayor said.

"We should observe social distancing as well as wear masks and gloves," he said. "Believe me, I would also like to lift all remaining restrictions as soon as possible. However, we cannot allow one reckless step to negate the results of many months of fighting against the pandemic."

According to Sobyanin, he is often asked when the old way of life will return in the capital.

"We will still act gradually, based on the analysis of the real situation and forecasts of the pandemic development," he said. At the same time, "much depends on the coronavirus' behavior, which scientists still do not understand fully", he added.

"But still much more depends on all of us. Take care of yourself and the ones you are close to. This is the safest and shortest route to victory over the infection," Sobyanin said.

The Russian health authority reported 7,425 new cases on Tuesday, taking the total to 599,705.

As many as 215,014 cases had been recorded in Moscow by Monday, with 1,068 infections registered since the previous day, the city's anti-coronavirus crisis center said.

Moscow Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova draws encouragement from the increasing number of patients who have recovered. The average number of hospital admissions has gone down by about 15 percent, to around 500 a day, while the incidence rate of community-acquired pneumonia-the main cause of the gravest forms of the disease-is also going down.

The number of coronavirus patients undergoing treatment at hospitals in Moscow has fallen from around 8,500 to 7,000. This decline has made it possible for those medical facilities that had been converted to coronavirus treatment centers to return to their original functions, she said.

 

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