President Vladimir Putin has expressed confidence that Russia will stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, and said that doing so is only a matter of time and the effectiveness of joint work between the state, society and business.
"When the situation changes, it will definitely change for the better - this is 100 percent certain. The question, of course, is in the duration, and the effectiveness of our joint work, and all of the people who use your free content or your products today will remain your customers," the president said, speaking at a meeting with representatives of the business community on Thursday.
Expressing confidence in Russia's COVID-19 response, Putin said he agreed with the idea that the country could fight off the virus in less than three months.
"Our colleague expects that we will deal with the coronavirus in two or three months time. This is already a good prognosis, because in some countries, it is said that the war with the virus (they call it a 'war') will be a very long one. But when we make it out of this situation, and we will do so, I hope this takes place maybe even earlier than you've said," Putin said, responding to an IT entrepreneur's comment about possible state support for companies in the digital knowledge market.
During their meeting, representatives of business proposed simplifying the procedure for the certification of items such as disinfectant equipment, down from the current 3-6 month process in place today. Putin said he welcomed the idea, saying the state will do its part to implement this, but added that a measure of control must remain in place to ensure safety for consumers.
Putin also discussed with entrepreneurs some of the economic measures he announced Wednesday in his address to the nation, including financial support measures for businesses, a six month tax holiday for small businesses and measures by the Central Bank to prevent layoffs and bankruptcies.
Russia's Anti-COVID-19 Measures
Russia has joined countries around the globe in introducing a series of medical and economic measures to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. These have included travel restrictions, quarantine for infected individuals and people over the age of 65, a week long paid holiday for non-essential workers starting next week, funding to encourage businesses to convert their resources to the production of medical equipment, and other measures. Russian scientists have also begun the development of potential coronavirus vaccines after sequencing COVID-19's genome last week.
On Thursday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin signed a decree suspending the work of city restaurants, bars, cafes and buffets, with the exception of takeout services, in connection with the pandemic. All shops in the capital excepting pharmacies and those selling essential goods will also be closed. Some major parks have also been closed, and the mayor has urged residents to abstain from visiting places of worship.
Russia presently has about 840 confirmed COVID-19 cases, most of them in the capital, as well as three fatalities, and the World Health Organization has said that so far, it sees no reason for a hard quarantine to be established in the country, given that it is already "one step ahead" in its fight against the virus.