‘It’s dangerous to run ahead, but we can’t sit back’ Russia's ‘non-working’ days are over, kind of. A brief retelling of Putin’s fifth coronavirus address.
On the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic
You know my position, it is unchanged. The main thing for us is the life, health, and safety of people. The “non-working” days have gone on for over six weeks. We received the resource of time. We did not allow the healthcare system to be overloaded, and such an overload, as global experience shows, is the cause of high mortality. A reserve of ventilators and other equipment has been formed. A testing system has been established — it is possible to detect the disease at an early stage, avoid serious consequences, and prevent the infection of friends and relatives. By mid-May, the number of tests will double. All the measures taken allow us to move on to the next stage of the fight against the epidemic — the exit from restrictions.
On the lifting of restrictions
“As of May 12, the unified non-working period will end for the entire economy, but the fight against the epidemic is not over. [We] cannot allow a breakdown, [or] backsliding. We must tread lightly.” The high-alert regime will be maintained for people over 65 years old and for people with chronic illnesses. “I understand how difficult it is for you to be at home constantly, often separated from your children, grandchildren. But now you still have to be patient!”
The regional leaders will decide how and in what order to soften or preserve (and maybe supplement) the restrictions. The decision must be calculated carefully. “[It’s] dangerous to run ahead, but [we] can’t sit back. We have to go between Scylla and Charybdis [to choose the lesser of two evils].” From May 12, we need to create conditions for enterprises to resume work in essential sectors of the economy: construction and natural resource extraction. For those enterprises that do not resume work, the salary payment system remains.
On helping citizens and businesses
Additional payments will be made to workers in social enterprises for three months — up to 60,000 rubles (approximately $815). Families with children under the age of three will receive 5,000 rubles (approximately $68) for three months, a lump-sum benefit of 10,000 rubles (approximately $136) for each child between the ages of three and 15 years old, and the childcare allowance will increase twofold — up to 6,750 rubles (approximately $92). A loan program will support employment in affected industries, equal to one minimum wage payment per employee per month, at 2 percent per annum. Individual entrepreneurs, and small and medium-sized businesses in affected sectors can write off all taxes and insurance payments, except VAT. Income tax paid in 2019 will be returned to self-employed individuals, and they will be given one “tax capital” minimum wage payment for tax payments in 2020.
I understand that sometimes you can’t bear the restrictions, but getting infected, getting sick, and losing the ability to work is much worse. More and more of Russia’s regions returning to regular life depends on all of us. Thank you.
- Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Russia initially introduced a period of paid ‘non-working’ days from March 30 to April 5. President Putin later extended them until April 30, and then again until May 11.
- On May 8, Russia’s public health authority, Rospotrebnadzor, recommended that the country begin to phase out quarantine restrictions.
On the morning of May 11, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 11,656 new coronavirus infections in the past day (up 5.5 percent from the day before) bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 221,344 patients. Another 94 people reportedly died from the disease, raising Russia’s total official number of fatalities caused by COVID-19 to 2,009. As many as 39,801 people in Russia are known to have recovered fully, including 5,495 in the past day.
Translation by Eilish Hart