As a measure to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, Russia is beginning what President Vladimir Putin called a “non-working week”.
The Russian government is urging people to stay at home, though mixed messaging has left many people confused.
According to officials, the new restrictions could be extended beyond April 5, depending on the health situation.
The number of Russians infected with Covid-19 passed 1,000 on March 27, with most cases detected in Moscow.
Based on that figure, the Kremlin spokesman has stressed that there is “de facto no epidemic” here, comparing Russia’s position favorably with the crisis in Europe.
Whilst state TV’s rolling news channel has changed its name to We’re Staying Home – broadcasting from presenters’ living rooms – many people are struggling to adjust after its previous insistence that Covid-19 was a “foreign threat”.
When President Putin announced a paid week off work for all, there was a rush to book holidays.
The governor of Krasnodar region, which includes the Black Sea resort of Sochi, had to order the closure of all shopping centers, parks and restaurants – and limit flights – after hotel reservations sky-rocketed.
Many Moscow residents have already headed out of town to their dachas, or summer houses.
In the Russian capital, there has been a noticeable increase in people in facemasks on the streets since President Putin’s national address.
Supermarket staff have begun wearing them and there are bottles of hand sanitizer in coffee shops.
Food stores will remain open, as well as other essential services, but from this weekend cafes and restaurants can offer takeaway only.