Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has declared an end to a nationwide partial economic shutdown but noted that some restrictions will remain, as new confirmed cases within the country continued to surge.
Putin, speaking in a televised address to the nation, said that it will be up to regional governors in the far-flung Russian Federation to determine what industrial plants could reopen starting Tuesday. He emphasized that it's essential to preserve jobs and keep the economy running provided that workers strictly observe sanitary norms.
Putin ordered the economic shutdown in late March, although key industrial plants and some other sectors have been allowed to continue operating. Most Russians have been ordered to stay home, except for restocking on supplies and medicine and receiving medical treatment.
Moscow will allow all of its industrial plants and construction sites to resume work starting Tuesday, and Putin said other regions may follow their example. Non-food stores, hairdressers, car dealers, and most other enterprises in the services sector will remain shuttered.
Putin emphasized that the restrictions must be lifted gradually to avoid triggering a new wave of contagion.
A new surge in coronavirus cases took Russia’s tally past those of Italy and Britain, making it the third-highest in the world.
The number of new cases of the novel coronavirus rose by a record 11,656 diagnoses in 24 hours, taking the total sick tally to 221,344. Only Spain and the United States have recorded more cases than the world’s biggest country.
More than half of all cases and deaths are in Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak. The Russian capital on Monday reported an overnight increase of 6,169 new cases.
Russia's coronavirus response center also reported 94 new deaths. Since the onset of the pandemic in the country, 2,009 Russians have succumbed to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus.
The official death toll remains far lower than in many countries, something Kremlin critics have queried.
Official data published on Sunday showed Moscow reported 18% more deaths in April this year than the same month in 2019, raising the possibility that the official death toll from COVID-19, seriously understates the spread of the virus.
Government officials attribute the lower death toll and the rising number of cases to a vast testing program, under which they say 5.6 million tests have been conducted.
That, they say, has allowed doctors to quickly identify people who need medical care and make sure they receive it in time.