Moscow authorities lift lockdown despite more than 1,000 new cases daily

A resident looks out of a window of her flat decorated with the national flag while in quarantine at home, in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/SERGEI CHIRIKOV

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Residents of Moscow began to resume their normal routines on Tuesday as a lockdown designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus was lifted after more than two months despite the Russian capital still reporting over a thousand daily cases.

Moscow’s nearly 13 million residents are now free to go outside when they want, use public transport, and travel across the city in their own vehicles without any restrictions or digital passes.

Authorities said on Tuesday they had recorded 8,595 new nationwide cases in the last 24 hours, pushing Russia‘s tally to 485,253, the third highest in the world. The country has recorded 6,142 deaths from the virus.

Moscow itself reported 1,572 new virus cases on Tuesday.

Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow’s mayor, announced the easing on Monday, saying the pandemic was receding in the city and that he would start rolling back restrictions on Tuesday with others due to be removed later this month.

Anti-Kremlin critics have questioned the wisdom of Sobyanin’s decision, accusing him of rushing the lockdown lifting in order to pave the way for a Red Square military parade later this month and a July 1 nationwide vote that could extend President Vladimir Putin’s rule until 2036.

Sobyanin has said his decision was motivated purely by the fact that coronavirus numbers in the capital had steadily fallen in recent weeks, Muscovites’ responsible behaviour, and by the fact that the strain on the city’s health system has eased.

Most commuters were wearing masks on Moscow’s sprawling metro system on Tuesday, which was still less busy than it was prior to the outbreak.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that a postponed nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that could extend his hold over power will go ahead on July 1.

The authorities have also rescheduled Russia’s massive May 9 Victory Day military parade for June 24.

Reuters / The Moscow Times

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