Putin tells Russians to stay home all month amid coronavirus threat

Putin tells Russians to stay home all month amid coronavirus threat
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Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia declares emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel leak near Arctic Circle How Russia benefits from America's crisis Trump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' MORE on Thursday directed most of the country’s citizens to stay home from work for the remainder of the month to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address Thursday, Putin said the work policy he imposed earlier in the week would remain in place for the rest of April, saying all workers should continue earning their regular salaries in the interim, The Associated Press reported.

Putin added in his address that some essential industries and businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will remain open during this period.

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“The threat remains, and experts believe that the epidemic is yet to reach its peak in the world, including our country,” Putin said.

He said precautions taken by Russian officials had likely slowed the outbreak in the country but that the number of cases was likely to continue growing in recent weeks.

Putin added that regional officials will have leeway in determining which workers can continue working. The comment came the same week the Russian parliament voted to allow the cabinet to introduce states of emergency, which was previously a power reserved for the president. Putin argued the hands-off approach was necessary due to the country’s size and variation in population, the AP reported.

“Our country is very big, population density differs widely and there are areas where the coronavirus already is posing a serious threat like in Moscow where we haven’t been able yet to change the situation despite the measures being taken,” Putin said.

The capital city is where about two-thirds of known cases in Russia have been confirmed, and the city imposed a strict lockdown earlier in the week.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended that lockdown through the end of the month following Putin’s speech. The mayor said there was widespread adherence to the order so using electronic surveillance to enforce it was likely not necessary, according to the AP.

Russian officials said the country had a total of 3,548 cases and 30 deaths as of Thursday.