Russia has ordered restaurants, cafes and resorts closed from Saturday to fight the coronavirus outbreak, but stopped short of insisting on a full-blown lockdown.
Russian regions are to “halt the activities of public food service organisations,” except for delivery services, a government decree said on Friday.
The decree also ordered regional authorities to halt the work of hotels and resorts and other similar venues until June, and to recommend that Russians limit travel.
Speaking at a meeting of the country’s anti-coronavirus task force, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said “harsh, even prohibitive measures are needed” to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading at crowded places.
They are dictated by “the necessity to cut down on any movements” and to postpone any non-essential travel and avoid public, he said.
“Staying home right now is the most important thing for everyone.”
President Vladimir Putin Wednesday declared a non-working week from March 28 to April 5 to stem the spread of COVID-19 as the number of coronavirus cases has spiked, particularly in Moscow.
He urged Russians to heed recommendations of healthcare professionals and government officials.
The nationwide measures were announced after Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin warned Putin the number of coronavirus cases was higher than official figures and requested that Muscovites — especially those over 65 — stay home and ordered restaurants and parks closed next week.
However authorities have so far denied plans to enforce a strict lockdown similar to that in China or some European countries.
In the second city of Saint Petersburg the faithful were banned from attending church services next week but there is no formal ban in Moscow.
The powerful Russian Orthodox Church said any such restrictions were unconstitutional.
Russia has also grounded all international flights from Friday.
Three people have died of the infection and 1036 have fallen ill, according to official statistics.