The mayor of Moscow on Monday told older Russians to either stay at home or escape to their country houses to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.
In a video on his website, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the over 65s “must comply with an at-home regimen” between March 26 and April 14.
“You may not like it and even oppose it, but trust me, it is dictated by sincere concern for you,” said the mayor, who has been tasked with heading Russia’s overall coronavirus response.
Russia has so far reported 438 infections, the majority of them in Moscow, its largest city with more than 12 million inhabitants.
The country has gradually tightened restrictions, halting cultural and sports events, switching schools to distance learning, and closing fitness clubs. It has also closed borders to almost all non-citizens.
However, unlike many countries in Asia and Europe, the national government has not ordered any confinement.
“You can go to the shop or the pharmacy only when you need to,” Sobyanin said, listing a number to call if help is needed.
“The best thing to do, if you can, is to go to your dacha, especially since the weather promises to be warm.”
Many big-city residents in Russia have country homes known as dachas, usually simple cottages with gardens on small plots of land, where they go at weekends and in summer.
Sobyanin did not say whether non-compliant pensioners would be punished.
But those in the age group complying with the rules will be compensated with a total of 4,000 rubles ($50), he said, also advising young people to “avoid personal communication with older people” to prevent infection from spreading and help their older neighbours who live alone.
The measures would not affect 67-year-old President Vladimir Putin because he “works where he lives”, his spokesman said, adding that the Kremlin is asking everyone involved in his meetings get tested beforehand.
One person who was infected with the virus in Russia has died but officials are not linking the death to the virus.SHOW MORE