Saturday, August 1, 2020

Russians Now Focusing on Economic Rather than Epidemiological Side of Crisis, Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 30 – Compared to residents of other countries, Russians are focusing on the economic rather than epidemiological sides of the crisis and are far gloomier about prospects for the restoration of the economic status quo ante, according to the EY Future Consumer Index (

            But the pandemic hasn’t gone away. Not only has the first wave not ended and, in some places, gotten worse, but Russian officials are talking about preparing for second wave as soon as September Consequently, this shift in public attitudes may be short-lived (

            Today, the Russian government said it had registered 5905 new infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total in the pandemic so far to 834,399, and 129 more deaths, bringing that toll to 13,802 ( Moscow also announced the opening of new testing sites and more tests ( and

            Perhaps significantly, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin cautioned against expecting any further declines in infections, hospitalizations and deaths given that those figures are already low ( and directed stores not to service those not wearing masks (

            Sobyanin even raised the specter that if the situation shifts anytime soon, he is prepared to shift from in-class instruction and go back to online arrangements, something the mayor had earlier suggested he had ruled out ( and

            Beyond the ring road, the pandemic in Russia continued to ebb and flow with some places improving and others deteriorating and some opening up while others were again shutting down ( Chechnya, for one, has tightened mask orders and shuttered sports halls ( and

            In most Muslim regions, religious leaders have called on believers to remain at home rather than gather to mark Kurban-Bayram ( and And KBR says it is devoting efforts now to prepare for a possible second wave (

            The Russian government says it will renew normal operations in hospitals first in Moscow and then later in rolling fashion across the country ( But in some critical places, like closed cities, it acknowledges that “a dangerous epidemiological situation” has emerged requiring new restrictions (

            Many summer camps have closed because 88 percent of parents say they are unwilling to put their children at risk by sending them to camps this year ( Russians who are able to travel to Turkey are being warned that the situation there is unstable and they may have to be evacuated (

            Economic news continued to be largely bad: Unless the government changes course, the depth of the recession will be far deeper than Moscow is predicting, economists say ( Declines in business activity are cascading into declines in business property ( And unemployment continues to rise (

            Russians are using money for children to extinguish short-term debts they assumed earlier in the pandemic rather than for food and shelter (, and banks are not extending more such loans, rejecting two-thirds of all applications (

            One segment of the economy is recovering because others have been shut down: Domestic routes in Russia where they are open are carrying as many passengers as they did before the pandemic in part because people can’t travel abroad (

This trend is being enhanced by a program which plans to put disinfecting corridors in domestic airports. The first of these has just been opened in Krasnoyarsk (

Many Russians are worried that the government may confiscate their savings to finance operations, something it has announced it will do in some limited cases but that many believe will be extended to most. That will drive much economic activity underground once again complicating a recovery (

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

·         Russian stores now have 41.3 face masks in stock for sale, of which 39 million are one-time use models (

·         Forty-nine percent of Russians tell Public Opinion Foundation pollsters that the situation in Russian medicine is not good (only 10 percent say otherwise) and that 51 percent say they have experienced problems in getting care for problems other than coronavirus infections (

·         And face masks, required in many Russian cities, have become a fashion accessory (

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