By Anush Janbabian
Moscow, May 16 (efe-epa).- Two months ago, when there were fewer than 100 cases of coronavirus in the whole of Russia, a significant number of Moscow residents heeded the municipal government’s recommendation to begin self-isolating at home.
People able to work remotely were quick to adapt to the new reality and as the weeks passed, parts of Europe’s most populous city emptied out.
Even the subways, normally packed at all hours, have been largely abandoned along with most other modes of public transportation.
The retreat accelerated after President Vladimir Putin announced a week’s paid vacation for all workers, since extended by another five weeks.
While the nationwide lockdown ended May 12, it has been left to the authorities in each region to decide the pace of re-opening in their respective jurisdictions.
Russia is second only to the United States in the number of confirmed infections, with 272,000, and Moscow accounts for more than half of that total.
Unsurprisingly, the municipal government has extended the stay-at-home guidance in the capital to May 31.
Saturday marked two months to the day since the Moscow administration first urged residents to hunker down in their homes.
“The restrictions didn’t affect me much,” filmmaker Aleksey Muradov told Efe of his experience under quarantine. “I am among those who need occasionally to apply restrictions to ourselves because a great part of my time is spent with others.”
For someone in his profession, he said, time alone can be beneficial in terms of self-knowledge.
Muradov is likewise untroubled by the closing of Russia’s borders, as he has already seen “half the world” in the course of traveling for his work.
But climate activist Arshak Makichyan, known as the Russian Greta Thunberg, is unhappy about having to give up the weekly one-person Fridays for Future protests he mounted in Moscow’s Pushkin Square for more than year prior to the health emergency.
“The pandemic has shown us that the Internet cannot substitute for the real world and we have even more reasons to struggle against climate chance and the ecological crisis,” the 25-year-old said.
Makichyan, a violinist who recently graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, went to Spain last December for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, but is unwilling to make any travel plans for this year due to the uncertainty created by Covid-19.
Fashion designer and entrepreneur Dilyara Sadrieva accepts the need for the lockdown.
“We have to do what we have to do. There are people in my circle who have gotten sick and have even died,” she told Efe by telephone, preferring the word “change” to “difficulty” when talking about having had to cancel or postpone projects and business trips.
“I think that the consequences (of lockdown) will be seen for a long time to come, because while it has not affected me much personally, because before I also worked remotely a lot, for many that was a big change. Now it seems that people have adapted, but it will be another psychological challenge when they have to return to the offline world,” Sadrieva said.
Anna Barne, an emergency-management expert and volunteer firefighter, said that she has only gone out “two or three times” to buy groceries since the quarantine began in Moscow.
Most of the shopping is done by her husband, an “essential worker” at the Moscow Botanical Garden.