Infectious vacationers Moscow and St. Petersburg have the largest coronavirus outbreaks in Russia. More than 70,000 people from these cities visit other regions around the country during the May holidays.
Despite the fact that the number of domestic flights in Russia has diminished several times over, during the May holidays (April 20 to May 12) around 70,000 Russians are planning to get on planes and trains to other regions. Many of them will be returning home. And while a number of regions have introduced a mandatory two-week quarantine for visitors from Moscow, the Moscow region, and St. Petersburg — the main starting points for the spread of the coronavirus in Russia — in other parts of the country, the situation is more complex.
Where is everyone going?
Due to flight cancellations in Russia, passenger traffic during the month of May is only about 10 percent of what it was last year, says a representative of the online tourist agency “Tutu.ru.” Nevertheless, according to airline ticket sales aggregator, Aviasales, around 70,000 people will depart from Moscow and St. Petersburg during the ongoing May holidays (April 20 – May 12). The top flight destinations include Makhachkala (in Dagestan), Simferopol (Russian-annexed Crimea), Vladikavkaz, Krasnodar, and Sochi, as well as Kazan and Rostov-on-Don. According to data from Tutu.ru, Kaliningrad, Magadan, and Anapa (Krasnodar Krai) are also among the most popular destinations.
“Judging by the directions, these are, for the most part, trips home,” says an Aviasales representative. The data from Tutu.ru also supports this conclusion: the popularity of round-trip tickets fell five times; mostly people are traveling one way.
The majority of trains from Moscow are going to Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Ivanovo, Sochi, Voronezh, Volgograd, Belgorod, and Vladimir, according to Tutu.ru.
How are the regions preparing?
The majority of these regions have introduced a mandatory two-week quarantine for all visitors to their capitals. For example, in the Nizhny Novgorod region — which has the fourth highest number of coronavirus cases in Russia — quarantine was introduced for all visitors from Moscow, the Moscow region, and St. Petersburg, beginning on April 14. In conversation with Meduza, the region’s Deputy Governor, David Melik-Guseynov, associated the large number of cases with an influx of people arriving in the region from Moscow. The Voronezh and Belgorod regions have introduced the same quarantine order.
According to a decree from the Belgorod region’s chief sanitary doctor, Elena Oglezneva, medics will be checking passengers arriving at the local airport, as well as those arriving in the region by rail. Individuals coming into the region from Moscow by other means of transportation are required to report their arrival of their own accord, via a telephone hotline. The arrivees have also been promised a place at a local observatory, if they are unable to quarantine themselves at their place of registration or residence.
Many regions have introduced a general quarantine for all arrivals, including the Russian authorities on the annexed Crimean Peninsula, as well as in the Krasnodar Krai, the Rostov region, Tatarstan, Kaliningrad, the Ivanov region, and the Volgograd region. In the Stavropol Krai, a two-week quarantine has been introduced for all visitors, and a list of all arrivees must be presented to the police.
That said, Meduza was unable to find data on restrictions in a number of regions. For example, the quarantine situation for people arriving in Dagestan remains unclear, despite the fact that according to Aviasales, Makhachkala is the most popular destination for flights during the May holidays. Not to mention the fact that Dagestan ranks sixth place in Russia in terms of the number of coronavirus cases. The republic currently has a general self-isolation regime, and residents are advised not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. The regional government’s press service did not respond to Meduza’s request for comment on local policies towards visitors.
Similarly, we were unable to find information about quarantine restrictions for people arriving in North Ossetia, although the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, the fourth most popular flight destination from Moscow. Information about quarantine requirements for visitors to the Magadan and Vladimir regions was also unavailable.
A representative for Russia’s public health agency, Rospotrebnadzor, says that the department has yet to issue any mandatory quarantine requirements for the regions: local leaders should decide on quarantine measures for visitors of their own accord.
On the morning of May 5, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 10,102 new coronavirus infections in the past day, bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 155,370 patients. Another 95 people reportedly died from the disease, raising Russia’s total number of fatalities caused by COVID-19 to 1,451. As many as 19,865 people in Russia are known to have recovered fully from the disease, including 1,770 in the past day.
Translation by Eilish Hart