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16 Mar, 2020 18:21

Russia to ban entry for foreign nationals until May: Government Press Service

Russia to ban entry for foreign nationals until May: Government Press Service

The Russian government has decided to temporarily restrict the entry of foreigners into the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The rules will come to force on Wednesday and will last until May 1.

According to the government's press service, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin held a series of telephone conversations on Sunday and Monday to explain the move to leaders of neighboring states.

“The measures taken by Russia comply with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, are the result of special circumstances and are absolutely temporary,” the report said.

Exceptions will be made for for diplomats & those "residing permanently in Russia," along with some other categories such as crews of aircraft. International truck drivers and people attending funerals will also be exempt. 

Also on rt.com European Commission suggests restricting all non-essential travel to EU for 30 days over coronavirus

Earlier on Monday, some Moscow media outlets had speculated that the government was considering completely closing the borders of Russia. On the same day, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a similar measure for the European Union. 

The reports came after the frontier with Belarus was partially shut, despite the two countries having a "union state" agreement. The move drew protest from Minsk with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko saying it was a pointless move.

“If you follow the Russian logic, you need to close its borders regionally: to separate the Far East, Siberia, the Urals, to separate the Caucasus, to draw a border somewhere in the north of the European part of Russia," he lamented. "Russia is huge, half the world (sic)."

As of the evening of March 16, the number of coronavirus cases in the world exceeded 174,000, of which more than 6,600 were fatal. In Russia, the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 reached 93 people, with no deaths so far. 

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