Critical Alert

Summary

Federal authorities have announced a tightening of nationwide restrictions from Oct. 28 to combat increasing numbers of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. Facemasks will be compulsory on all public transport and enclosed public spaces; the new measure with apply throughout the country, though some areas, including Moscow and Saint Petersburg, had already introduced similar mandates. Federal authorities have also announced that bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues should close from 2300-0600; while it is currently unclear whether the measure is advisory or mandatory, it is likely to be widely followed by regional governments.

Authorities had been utilizing a largely localized approach, with tighter restrictions in regions with increased infection rates. In Moscow, where the bulk of cases have been reported, authorities have introduced more than 400 thermal cameras at metro stations; any passengers presenting a high temperature will be denied entry. Mass events, public gatherings, and exhibitions remain banned, and museums are closed. Spectators are prohibited from attending sporting events. Citizens over the age of 65 and those suffering from chronic diseases are advised to avoid public places and temporarily suspend personal contacts with any persons from outside their immediate households. Elsewhere, authorities in Saint Petersburg, Bryansk, Irkutsk, Keremovo, and Novosibirsk have announced that school pupils will be sent home on extended vacations or will transfer to remote learning.

Authorities nationwide continue to encourage residents to work from home whenever possible. However, nonessential businesses, retailers, theaters and cinemas, leisure facilities, educational institutions, and cultural venues have resumed operations in many locations, subject to social-distancing mandates. Restaurants, bars, and cafes may open indoor seating areas. Public transportation has also resumed in most cities, though with reduced services.

International flights have resumed to more than 30 countries, including Armenia, Belarus, Cuba, France, Greece, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, the UK, and the US. Flights with Japan are due to resume from Nov. 1. The availability of flights is still dependent on COVID-19 restrictions in destination countries. Additionally, flights with low demand could be canceled or merged with a later or earlier service. Foreign air passengers arriving in Russia must 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. Foreigners are not allowed entry for tourism purposes.

Authorities have reopened land border crossings with some nations, including Belarus and Estonia; all persons entering Russia via land border crossings will be subject to thermal imaging. Persons displaying symptoms of acute respiratory infection will be isolated, hospitalized, and tested for COVID-19. Persons not displaying symptoms must self-isolate at their accommodations; those unable to effectively self-isolate may be placed in a state facility. International rail services with Belarus and Lithuania have resumed with a reduced schedule; other international rail services remain suspended. Entry into the country via river and sea ports remains suspended; freight transporters are exempt.

Any restrictions may be extended or amended with little advance notice. Failure to comply with these restrictions could result in a fine or imprisonment.

Advice

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.

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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