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19 June


Russia plans to ease its restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in three stages

Public should keep observing self-isolation measures even when some restrictions are eased from May 12

Photo: Kremlin

/NOVOSTIVL/ Russia’s total number of coronavirus cases rose on Wednesday by more than 10000 for the fourth consecutive day to 165929, while the death toll climbed to 1537.

Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova became the latest high-ranking official and third cabinet minister to be diagnosed with the coronavirus.

In a televised video conference with government officials and regional heads, President Vladimir Putin lent his support to the three-stage plan for reducing restrictions. He said Russia should not rush, however, as any haste in removing preventative measures could undo their impact so far.

At first, people will be allowed to go for walks and exercise on the streets, said Anna Popova, head of the consumer health regulator Rospotrebnadzor, but she gave no specific time frame.

The second stage would see educational establishments and some service-sector businesses return to operation, with recreational facilities including parks and squares then reopening in the third stage, she said.

Putin’s approval rating has slipped to its lowest level in more than two decades during the coronavirus crisis, even as support for his plan to extend his rule for years ahead has risen, a Levada-Centre poll showed.

The authorities are looking for ways to cushion an economic contraction exacerbated by a global slump in the price of oil, Russia’s key export, as well as the coronavirus outbreak.

In 2020, the economy may shrink up to 6%, the central bank predicted last month, when it slashed interest its rates and pledged more cuts to the cost of lending later this year.