May 15, 2020 / 7:55 AM / 10 days ago

Uzbekistan extends confinement measures, eases some restrictions

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks line up at a safe social distance outside the grocery store amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tashkent, Uzbekistan April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov/File Photo

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will keep some of its lockdowns in place until June 1, the government said on Friday, but allow movement within and between certain major cities and provinces.

The former Soviet republic closed its borders in March while continuing to airlift thousands of citizens from Russia. It locked down all of its provinces and closed all non-essential businesses to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It started gradually easing restrictions this month, dividing the country into “green”, “yellow” and “red” zones depending on the rates of newly-detected COVID-19 cases.

As the next step, flights and passenger trains between capital Tashkent and some provincial centres will resume from May 18, the government said, with additional safety measures.

More businesses will be allowed to reopen from the same date, depending on zones: in “green” zones, for example, even some sports arenas will start working while in the “red” ones the list is limited to certain services such as car repairs.

The country’s 34 million people will be allowed to use their cars anywhere, but only in “green” zones will there be no restrictions. The Central Asian state, which is opening up after decades of near-isolation, has confirmed 2,652 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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