On November 5, Alyaksandr Lukashenka linked the closure of borders with a ‘huge increase in COVID-19 incidence rate’ in Western countries’, especially in Poland.
According to him, the decision to bar foreigners from entering Belarus was not political. However, the politician stressed that a number of ‘smarties’ who have Belarusian citizenship would be deprived of the opportunity to return to the country.
“I have ordered the border troops not to let in not only foreign nationals but also those ‘smart’ Belarusians who left our country during this difficult time. We don’t need them to bring the infection here and it does not matter what passport they carry. They have gone to study or work there, let them. We didn’t oppose them going there. Therefore, let them work and get medical treatment there,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka.
As medicines for COVID-19 had not yet been invented, Belarus that had not overcome the pandemic peak, could not leave our borders open, he added. At the same time, it follows from his statement that Belarusians returning from the Russian Federation should not expect any problems when crossing the border.
On the same day, Lukashenka warned Belarusian doctors who went to work in Poland that they might face issues when returning to Belarus.
From November 1, our country temporarily suspended entry border crossing for foreign citizens and stateless persons. The entry of foreign citizens at road checkpoints, simplified checkpoints, checkpoints at railway stations, checkpoints in river ports is temporarily restricted. But foreigners can fly to Belarus through the airport. The official reason for this limitation is to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
When COVID-19 started to spread in Europe, Alyaksandr Lukashenka repeatedly hit the international headlines due his careless attitude to the outbreak. In mid March, he shared with the newly appointed officials his own ways of fighting infections, including the novel coronavirus. He advised going to a dry sauna, claiming that the virus dies at 60 degrees; more frequent handwashing, regular diet, and… drinking some vodka are also on his list. Later, he called the situation ‘psychosis and foolishness’.
Even on the back of the increasing infection rate, the Belarusian authorities did not introduce any quarantine measures in the spring of 2020. Lukashenka claimed that imposing a nationwide lockdown would not improve the situation in Belarus. In his opinion, such steps might deal a crippling blow to the daily life of the nation. Although the Belarusian leader admitted that the recommendations by the WHO should be studied in detail, he stressed the country would run its own course.