June 8, 2020 / 7:38 AM / 2 months ago

Moscow lifts coronavirus lockdown as Russia partially reopens borders

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow is lifting its months-long coronavirus lockdown, mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Monday, declaring that the pandemic was on the wane and it was possible to resume normal life during the course of June.

FILE PHOTO: A pigeon sits next to a medical specialist resting on a bench at the territory of Aleksandrovskaya hospital, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

Sobyanin’s comments came shortly after Russia announced a partial reopening of its borders, saying it would allow people who needed to work, study, get medical treatment or look after relatives to travel abroad for the first time since late March.

“The pandemic has slowly but steadily been on the wane for several weeks,” Sobyanin wrote on his personal blog. “Moscow can practically get back to its usual rhythm of life.”

Russia continues to report thousands of new infections daily. Its nationwide tally is 476,658, the third-highest in the world, but the number of cases in Moscow, the original epicentre of the virus, has more than halved to around 2,000 a day.

The total number of deaths across the country at 5,971 is much lower than many other countries, which has stirred debate about the way authorities count fatalities.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced the partial border reopening for some travellers on state television.

Foreign citizens needing treatment in Russia or those with close relatives or guardians needing care could also now enter the country, Mishustin said.

Russia closed its borders on March 30 after grounding all international flights and asked citizens to stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. International flights have yet to fully resume though a decision is expected soon.

Sobyanin set out how the Russian capital would cancel virus curbs, such as a digital pass system for residents and a self-isolation regime, from Tuesday with other restrictions to be lifted during June.

Beauty salons, hairdressers and veterinarian clinics would also reopen, he said, with other restrictions, including those on restaurants and cafes, lifted later in June.

Additional rpeorting by Gleb Stolyarov and Polina Ivanova; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Janet Lawrence

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