Moscow to ease COVID-19 lockdown rules from Monday

Moscow to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Monday: mayor

Men wearing a protective masks walk on a platform at the Kievskaya metro station in Moscow. (AFP photo)

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Wednesday announced an easing of the Russian capital's coronavirus lockdown starting June 1, including the reopening of non-food shops.

"Today we can already talk about the next steps out of the crisis situation," Sobyanin told President Vladimir Putin during a televised video conference.

"I propose from June 1 to reopen not only food retail but all non-food retail."

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The mayor also called for the reopening of retail services where there is minimal contact with the customer, listing dry cleaners, laundry services and repair workshops.

The mayor said that lifting some restrictions was justified because of the improvement in the virus situation since May 12, when workers in construction and industry were allowed to return to work.

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The number of hospitalisations in Moscow has fallen 40 percent since then, he said.

"We acted proactively and didn't waste time" Putin said of the measures in Moscow.

The mayor also proposed allowing people to take walks under some limitations.

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Currently people are only supposed to go to the nearest shop or walk a dog within a 100-metre radius of their home.

Sobyanin proposed as a test measure allowing people to go on walks according to a staggered schedule based on their home addresses.

He said this was a "very difficult decision" because he feared allowing unrestricted walks would mean "there will be about as many out as at a May 1 rally," referring to a Soviet holiday celebrating workers.

The number of commuters has gone up by a million from May 12, Sobyanin added.

Moscow has been under lockdown since March 30, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for brief trips to a shop, to walk dogs or travel to essential jobs with a permit.

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