Russia orders wider use of masks, calls for bars to close overnight

FILE PHOTO: A man uses a smartphone during the broadcast of soccer match of the Belarusian Premier League or the Vysheyshaya Liga, which keeps playing and holding matches with fans despite the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Smith's bar in Moscow, Russia March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities on Tuesday ordered people across the country to wear facemasks in some public places and asked regional authorities to consider shutting bars and restaurants overnight after a surge in coronavirus cases.

The consumer health watchdog told regional authorities to make masks mandatory in parking lots, elevators, taxis and public transport. Some cities, including the capital Moscow, have already made masks mandatory on public transport.

It also suggested they close bars and restaurants between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. (2000 GMT to 0300 GMT). The RIA news agency had earlier reported this as an order, not a recommendation.

Russia has seen a surge in new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, prompting the authorities to open temporary hospitals and urge the population to take precautionary measures.

The authorities have said they will not repeat the total lockdowns imposed across the country earlier this year.

Russia had reported 1,547,774 infections, the world’s fourth largest COVID-19 case load after the United States, India and Brazil.

Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva, Maxim Rodionov, Anton Zverev and Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Heavens