MOSCOW — Shopping malls and parks are set to reopen in Moscow on Monday as the Russian capital eases coronavirus restrictions despite having the world's third-largest caseload.
The relaxation of the confinement orders in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia's outbreak with a population of more than 12 million, comes after President Vladimir Putin announced the epidemic had passed its peak in the country.
Under lockdown since March 30, residents of Europe's most populous city were until now only allowed to leave their homes for brief trips to shop, walk dogs or travel to essential jobs with a permit.
While Muscovites welcomed the opportunity to return to parks and malls after weeks of being cooped up at home, many ridiculed the Moscow mayor's "experiment" aimed at regulating people's walks and exercise.
As a two-week test measure, Sergei Sobyanin said residents of Moscow will be allowed to take walks according to a staggered schedule based on their home address.
"Regular walks are allowed between 9am and 9pm but no more than three times a week – twice on weekdays and once on a weekend," said Sobyanin on his blog, adding that a detailed schedule would be released separately.
People can jog or exercise between 5am and 9am but must wear masks, according to the new rules.
Sobyanin said he feared that without limits on walking, people would throng the streets in scenes reminiscent of May Day outpourings in Soviet times.
When the restrictions are relaxed, dry-cleaners, laundry services and repair workshops will be allowed to reopen, while restaurants, cafes and cinemas will remain closed for now.
Moscow authorities also said that no mass gatherings would be allowed during the city-wide quarantine that will remain in place until at least June 14. — AFP