UPDATE; Moscow Restricts Easter Week Church Service As Coronavirus Cases Mount


Russia on Sunday reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases, the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, as authorities announced restrictions on Easter services to contain the spread of the disease.

Moscow and many other regions have been in lockdown for nearly two weeks, but the number of cases reached 15,770 as of April 12, while deaths rose to 130.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which observes Easter this year on April 19, ordered churches in and around Moscow to close their doors to large groups during the Holy Week leading up to the holiday.

Moscow authorities also clamped down on those venturing outside without a reason, such as to buy food or medicine, get medical treatment, walk the dog or take out the rubbish.

The capital issued 1,358 fines for breaking the rules on Saturday, its coronavirus crisis centre said.

Around 3.5 million people in Moscow, a city of 12.5 million, left their homes for more that 6 hours on Friday, according to a track analysis of their cellphones, TASS news agency reported on Sunday, citing the crisis centre.

Moscow is preparing to introduce digital permits next week to control movement to help enforce the lockdown.

An increased number of traffic police accompanied by armed officers were checking cars heading into Moscow on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, and some drivers with non-Moscow plates were refused entry to the capital.

Russia will not defeat the coronavirus in time to lift restrictions by May 9, when the capital normally hosts an annual military parade to celebrate victory in World War Two, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova told state TV.

“Should we be disciplined, able to listen to ourselves and those recommendations applied today, then we’ll successfully get out of this situation and will shake each others’ hands by the summer,” Golikova said in an interview released on Sunday.

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