Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Russia to allow international flights to and from the country to resume from Aug. 1 after a four month suspension due to COVID-19.

  • Alert Begins: 24 Jul 2020 08:13 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 07 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Easing of COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions remain

Authorities in Russia will allow international flights to and from Russia to resume from Aug. 1 after a four-month suspension due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. In the early phases, passengers will be able to fly via Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO), Vnukovo Airport (VKO), and Domodedovo Airport (DME) in Moscow, Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg (LED), and Rostov-on-Don Airport (RVI) to the current three pre-approved countries of the UK, Tanzania, and Turkey. Only citizens of these three countries will initially be allowed entry to Russia.

Reports indicate that authorities are currently negotiating the resumption of international flights with 30 additional countries. Foreign travelers arriving in Russia will need to present negative COVID-19 test results taken no longer than 72 hours before departure; Russian citizens must produce a negative COVID-19 test within three days upon arrival or self-isolate for 14 days. All other foreign citizens remain barred from entry into the country with certain exceptions, which include for medical treatment or to care for family members. All entry into the country via overland border crossings, rail crossings, river ports, and seaports remains suspended; those mentioned above, freight transporters, and diplomats are exempt. Since June 9, Russian citizens have been permitted to travel abroad for work, education, family, and medical reasons.

Individuals nationwide continue to be encouraged to work from home where possible. There has been a significant reduction in high-speed and long-distance rail services since April 7. All public mass events remain suspended nationwide; however, authorities in Moscow have made some exceptions, including for the June 24 Victory Parade. Public offices, public utility services, public transport, medical facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores, and financial institutions have been deemed essential and continue to operate. Emergency services personnel, security forces personnel, healthcare workers, public utility workers, and workers in essential services and industries are exempt from the restrictions.

Officials in Moscow previously eased Moscow-related restrictions June 23. Public swimming pools, recreation areas, and sports facilities are permitted to reopen. Restaurants, bars, and cafes may open indoor seating areas. Residents are also permitted to hold wedding ceremonies, provided sanitary and social distance rules can be observed. River taxis and other modes of river transportation are also permitted. Authorities removed the limits on when and for how long individuals are permitted to leave their homes. Many nonessential businesses, leisure facilities, and cultural venues have reopened, including hairdressers, libraries, gyms, and museums. Individuals must continue to wear protective face coverings in public and practice social distancing where possible.

Other regions have also taken steps to ease lockdowns. A range of nonessential businesses is permitted to reopen in most areas, including in Belgorod Oblast, Ivanovo Oblast, Kostroma Oblast, Murmansk Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast, Oryol Oblast, Omsk Oblast, Republic of Tatarstan, Republic of Chechnya, Saint Petersburg, and Tomsk Oblast. Social distancing rules remain in place in these regions, and residents are required to wear face masks in public. Altai, Astrakhan, Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Dagestan, Buryatia, and Kabardino-Balkaria have reopened for tourism and domestic travel from July 1.

Any restrictions may be extended or amended with little-to-no advance notice. Failure to comply with these restrictions could result in a fine or imprisonment.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Russian government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent months in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV2-virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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