6. Measures in other sectors
6.1 Measures in other sectors
Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.
From 6 June, the Russian Federation will begin re-opening its borders, starting with Russian citizens and foreign nationals who need to return home for medical treatment or to take care of sick relatives. Russian citizens will also be allowed to go abroad for work or study (http://government.ru/news/39842/). From 25 June, highly qualified foreign specialists with a work permit will be allowed a single entry into the country (http://government.ru/news/39929/).
In addition, Prime Minister Mishustin announced on 8 June that the Russian Federation was ready for the gradual opening of the national tourist season (https://ria.ru/20200608/1572615276.html), following the recommendations issued by Rospotrebnadzor for the opening of hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic. A plan was developed by the Russian tourism industry, and Prime Minister Mishustin announced that from 1 July, more than 70 regions are able to receive tourists although booking rates are only at 20 or 30% of the overall capacity (http://government.ru/news/39945/).
Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova announced that negotiations with foreign countries have started in order to lift restrictions on international flights. From 15 July, flights can resume with countries where the number of new COVID-19 cases is below 40 per 100,000 inhabitants, the average daily increase in new cases has not exceeded 1% over the last 14 days, and the effective reproduction rate has not exceeded 1 in the past 7 days (while applying the principle of reciprocity) (http://government.ru/news/40004/). From 1 August, regular flights will resume with Tanzania, Turkey and the United Kingdom from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don to London, Zanzibar, Ankara and Istanbul, while flights to and from Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman will start from 10 August (http://government.ru/news/40095/). The delivery of visas to citizens of these three countries has resumed on 24 July (http://government.ru/news/40095/).
The Russian Federation adopted a policy of progressive restriction of flights from destinations with a high COVID-19 burden: at first charter flights were cancelled while later on, only flights connecting capitals to Moscow were authorized. From 27 March, all flights to and from foreign countries were suspended indefinitely (http://government.ru/orders/selection/401/39276/). A policy of repatriation of Russian nationals has been put in place and 1 billion RUB allocated to support those compelled to stay abroad. The Russian Government is providing 1.5 billion RUB from the Federal Reserve Fund to compensate air companies for the cost of evacuating Russian citizens from abroad in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Russian Government closed the physical border with the People’s Republic of China at the end of January. Ad hoc and controversial selective control and restriction of the free movement of Chinese citizens took place in Moscow. Later, the temporary closure of state borders to Italians was announced. The entry of all foreign nationals was banned from 18 March to 1 May, with some exceptions. As of midnight 30 March 2020, Russian borders were fully closed, a measure applying to all road, rail and pedestrian checkpoints, as well as maritime borders. All foreign citizens were granted the right to stay in the Russian Federation until 15 September (extended once after the initial deadline of 15 June), regardless of the expiration of their visa, residence or work permit, and employers are allowed to hire foreign citizens without work permit. Although reopening was envisioned for 15 July, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, has extended the ban on international flights until 1 August (https://www.rbc.ru/business/02/07/2020/5efdabea9a79470ab7faf9f2).
To date, there are no restrictions on cargo imports. Some regions have put in place movement restrictions within their territories. From 27 April, a few regions had introduced restrictions on movements between regions – for example, the Nizhny Novgorod region temporarily allowed entry only for residents or citizens with work permits, and the Tomsk region suspended interregional buses, while later on the Tuva region went under 15 day quarantine (see Section 1.2).
On 16 June, COVID-19 was included in the list of diseases that can entail refusal or cancellation of temporary residence permits or work permits for foreigners. https://cdnimg.rg.ru/pril/190/39/37/58656.pdf.
In his addresses to the nation on 25 March and 26 June and in his meeting with Members of the Government on 16 April (www.kremlin.ru), President Putin announced a series of measures to support individuals, businesses and the economy. 300 billion RUB will be taken from the Federal Reserve Fund to help the economy, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); 150 billion RUB will support employment in the country during the shutdown period; the Ministry of Finance will allocate 1.4 trillion RUB (or 1.2% of GDP) to support the economy during the epidemic; 300 billion RUB provided to the Regions for flexible use as they put in place support measures; 100 billion RUB to 56 regions that saw a decline in their revenues (http://static.government.ru/media/files/OBMA7N1xSnAsh3zeHmqEkAZBhCaqpdvA.pdf)
To support the economy and business, a series of measures have been taken, which were reinforced on 11 May as the President announced the end of the nationwide paid leave. All those directed to SMEs are now gathered on a dedicated website (http://covid.economy.gov.ru/) that also provides guidance on who can receive support and how. A six-month moratorium has been granted on tax (except VAT) and loan payments for all SMEs, backed up by state subsidies (5 billion RUB) for loan organizations and the creation of a guarantee fund to restructure loans. Fiscal, customs and other inspections of SMEs have been suspended until 30 June. An expanding list of permissions and licences were automatically renewed to relieve administrative pressure (http://static.government.ru/media/files/USQ2aJMQOwqJzk6AonctuZW8mMeBVW72.pdf.) Social insurance premiums for SMEs have been reduced from 30% to 15%, and temporarily suspended for microbusinesses. For companies in sectors hardest hit by the outbreak, targeted subsidies and a six-month moratorium on bankruptcy claims will also be implemented . The list of sectors most affected by the COVID-19 crisis has been updated several times; with substantial allocations to the aviation sector and related industries.
Employers were expected to finance the nationally imposed paid leave in April. Provided they retain at least 90% of their staff, companies can receive state subsidies equal to the minimum wage per employee and per month, through a simplified and remote process, as well as additional subsidies, interest-free loans and tax exemptions (an additional 100 billion RUB was allocated to expand this programme on 23 June). Specific soft financing possibilities are offered through a 24 billion RUB governmental subsidy for a list of more than 1000 large enterprises vital for the national economy selected by the Government, and to their subcontractors.
To support individuals, the minimum unemployment benefit was increased to the level of the minimum wage (from 8,000 RUB to 12,130 RUB). From April to August, full unemployment benefits will be paid to all workers dismissed after 1 March, with an additional 3,000 RUB for each dependent child. (http://static.government.ru/media/files/9AGNmv0K4689DNrqyU139SW0ZfJNOQsl.pdf), Employees on sick leave will not have their pay reduced below the minimum wage. Sick-leave payments will be made directly to the citizen in advance, so that those under quarantine do not lose their income. All consumer and mortgage loans are frozen without penalties against proof of more than 30% decline in an individual’s ability to pay. Access to loans is facilitated for essential products (groceries, medical and children related goods). Social benefits have been extended automatically for the next six months, and income requirements to access social benefits are loosened for the recently unemployed. Families that qualify for maternity benefits will get an additional 5,000 RUB every month for the next three months for each child under 3 (starting in April 2020), two lump-sum payments of 10,000 RUB per child aged 3 to 16 in June and July and the doubling of child allowance for the unemployed.
In addition, on 30 May, 145 billion RUB were allocated to volunteers, NGO staff, social workers and citizens involved in COVID-19-related supporting activities between 1 April and 30 June (12,130 RUB per person per month) (http://static.government.ru/media/files/wfVmijbMW4z77Hk3RErtmM84RoWIeA9Q.pdf). 7.6 billion RUB were also allocated for bonuses to employees of social institutions that have been in contact with COVID-19 patients, while 242 million RUB were allocated to a nation-wide organization of Medical Volunteers for activities supporting the elderly during the pandemic, including through the purchase of food and medicine. More than 1 billion RUB was allocated to provide volunteers and socially oriented NGOs with free PPE (http://static.government.ru/media/files/UfoCxDWWz9WkYKcPzFFt9Xaa9BG7alrF.pdf)
Several regions have put in place additional social measures to support individuals and business during the epidemic and self-isolation period. In Moscow, support measures for citizens aged over 65 years, include: a 4,000 RUB financial subsidy; the cancellation of penalties for late payment of utility bills; continuity of service for mobile phones at zero balance; and food and medications deliveries by city social services and volunteers. Important adjournments were also granted for property and land related payments and taxes. In addition to Federal ones, Municipal bonuses are paid to social workers (https://www.mos.ru/mayor/themes/1299/6531050/). On 27 May, private clinics were added to the list of industries most affected by the COVID crisis and benefit from some exemptions and advantages. Regions in the Far East will launch a one-stop system where people can request medical assistance, food, etc. by contacting a single phone number. (https://digital.gov.ru/ru/events/39722/).
The Russian Government is very concerned about maintaining the supply of food and essential goods. The Ministry of Trade has been charged with checking supplies in shops and prices to ensure that there is no abuse. The Ministry of Agriculture has asked all regions to prepare two-months food supply to prevent shortages Export of cereals outside the Eurasian Economic Union will be limited to 7 million tons from 1 April to June 30. During the G20 summit President Putin called for sanctions relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 2 June, Prime Minister Mishustin presented the draft nationwide plan of action to ensure the restoration of employment and incomes, economic growth and long-term structural changes. The plan will be implemented from the beginning of July, and rolled out in three phases until the end of 2021 at a cost of 5,000 billion RUB (http://government.ru/news/39813/).
The Council of Chief State Sanitary Doctors of the Eurasian Economic Union regularly meets to address cross-border coordination and collaboration related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with possible attendance of other neighbouring countries such as Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. On 29 June, the Council approved a Comprehensive Plan of Measures against the spread of coronavirus and other dangerous infections, for submission to the EAEU Intergovernmental Council (https://www.rospotrebnadzor.ru/about/info/news/news_details.php?ELEMENT_ID=14810).