Russia announced a decision to shut down its border with Belarus to suspend the movement of people and cotain the spread of coronavirus, TASS reports.
UPDATE: The decision to temporarily restrict the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons in Russia will come in force on 18 March and last till 1 May 2020. The information first appeared on the website of the government of the Russian Federation.
“We have taken a decision to suspend the movement of people across the border with Belarus. We have taken a number of other preventive steps as well.
We will do our best to protect our country from this novel threat, to get ahead of the epidemic and take exhaustive measures to contain the spread of coronavirus,” Russian Premier Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday, 16 March.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko responded to the Russian authorities’ decision: “We should think of how to act adequately. It is weird that no one in the Russian government knows that there is no border between Belarus and Russia.
This border is not delineated and demarcated. We have no border, therefore there is nothing to shut down. Maybe, they have already established this border. It is up to them.”
Later in the day, Moscow blamed Minsk for non-compliance with WHO recommendations on fighting coronavirus.
“Belarus is included in the list of countries whose citizens are restricted from entering Russia, due to the fact that Minsk does not take sufficient measures to combat coronavirus,” the message released by the press service of the Russian government reads.
The exact date for closing the border has not yet been announced. Several Kommersant sources said that an announcement on the closure of borders could be made public on Wednesday, 18 March.
Meanwhile, Belarusian coming to Moscow will now have to self-quarantine themslves for 14 days, according ti a decree issued by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
According to the latest reports, as of 16 March, 36 people in Belarus have tested positive for coronavirus and 63 peope in Russia.