Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Moscow lowers the curtain on coronavirus

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. The total confinement order given ten days ago by the Moscow City Council has completely transformed the glittering Russian capital, whose population exceeds 12 million inhabitants and covers an area of ​​2,500 square kilometers, double that of Rome and four times more than Madrid.

Its numerous theaters, cafes, restaurants and concert halls ceased to function before the rforced domicile transfer. The mayor, Sergey Sobianin, ordered the curtain to go down but not to turn off the lights of the largest metropolis in Europe. Although it retains resplendent lighting in an immense number of buildings, Moscow is no longer what it was.

Its wide and kilometer-long avenues are practically deserted at night. During the day, however, they show a certain transfer of ambulances, police cars and public transport. There are also private vehicles, especially during the hours when authorized employees go to their work centers. There are hardly any pedestrians, except those who go to food stores and pharmacies or those who take their dogs out. These three cases and the incursion to throw the garbage into the container are the ones that allow leave home. Also go to the doctor, even using the car, although it will have to be justified if the Police require it.

Outside of these assumptions, everything else – walking, playing with children in the parks or straying too far from the address on the identity document – may be punished with a fine 4,000 rubles (about 50 euros). Repeat offenders will pay 5,000 rubles (about 60 euros). Sobianin has said that he is satisfied with how the confinement is being observed. “Most Muscovites respect it,” he says. “We are in the balance that we need to maintain. We cannot close the whole city in such a way that everything is reduced to zero, but when more than two thirds are at home in isolation and around a room in motion it can be considered satisfactory, “he adds.

Three million

According to Sobianin, there are “around three million people in their jobs: public bodies, health personnel, security forces and employees of the transport and essential production industries.” But the news of many TV channels At the federal level, they are already broadcast with the usual presenters cloistered in their homes. According to the crisis center of the Russian capital, the number of passengers on the metro has fallen by 84%.

The luxury boutiques in the center are closed, yes, keeping their elegant shop windows well lit. Nightclubs and discos also lowered their blinds. Even large shopping centers, sports facilities and museums are closed.

Skipping confinement doesn’t make much sense because there’s nowhere to go and walking down the street carries the risk that a National Guard (Rosgvardia) patrol will upset you. Beyond the fine, which for some may be affordable, it is very unpleasant to have to endure the subsequent questioning of the agents, their damning glances and the eternal verification of documents. Getting cocky and rushing them usually means ending up at the police station. The Moscow Department of the Interior reports more than a thousand complaints that the offenders have received in police dependencies and a similar amount delivered directly to the street after completing the corresponding form.

But what Muscovites carry the worst, at least the wealthiest and revelers – it should not be forgotten that the Russian capital is the one that concentrates the largest number of billionaires of the world – is not being able to meet your friends at the disco, in the restaurant or in the many VIP clubs around the city.

The inhabitants have not yet started to sing from the balconies or applaud anyone, but they have seen parties in residential buildings from the street with the louder music than usual and even, as happened on Friday next to the Radisson Ukraine hotel, with a fireworks launch. The consumption of alcohol is also increased.

Last month a birthday party attended by the cream of the Russian elite, including high officials and famous artists, constituted a focus of contagion of the coronavirus.

Another sector of the Moscow population that is having a very hard time is ice hockey fans and, even more, the select audience that regularly fills theaters, opera, ballet and philharmonic performances. In Moscow there are about 400 scenes and audition rooms and shows. One can be satisfied contemplating the representations in videos via mobile. But it is not the same, it lacks the essential social component, the warmth of the public and the vital pulse of the performances.

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