On March 18, Russia will introduce temporary restrictions on the entry of foreign citizens to the Russian Federation, including citizens of the Republic of Belarus, to counter the further spread of COVID-19, the press service of the Russian government reported on Monday evening.
The measures are expected to be in force till May, 1. The directive, however, provides for exceptions for some categories of people working in Russia: employees of diplomatic missions and consular offices, members of official delegations, aircraft, ship and boat crews, and international railway train crews, as well as persons that permanently reside in the Russian Federation or those planning to attend the funeral of a close relative.
According to the Russian side, Belarus was notified about the planned measures in a timely manner during a telephone conversation between Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his Belarusian counterpart Syarhei Rumas on March, 15. No objections were expressed during the telephone conversation between the prime ministers, the press service notes.
However, on March 16, Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka blasted Russian authorities for their intention to close the border with Belarus. He stressed that Belarus should be afraid of Russia ‘affecting’ it, because it is them who ‘have a fire’. “So we should be afraid of this situation, why are you afraid of Belarus?” he added.
In turn, the Russian government called the statement by Lukashenka ‘perplexing and highlighted that the assertion that all of Russia is ablaze in coronavirus did not reflect reality.
A few days ago, the Belarusian Health Ministry said that the closure of the border was unable to prevent the entry of coronavirus, as ‘7 out of 8 cases of imported coronavirus infection were found precisely among the Belarusian citizens, returning to their homeland from abroad’.