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Masked Muscovites face up to prevention measures

China Daily 11/13/2020 China Daily - Europe Weekly

It is good to see more Russians wearing face masks on the streets of the capital.

As I walk near my apartment in Leninsky Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares connecting Vnukovo Airport and Red Square in Moscow, I see that more than 70 percent of pedestrians are wearing masks.

Despite the country having the fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases globally, I feel the fact that more people are realizing the importance of wearing masks is a step in the right direction, especially compared with the situation during the first wave of cases in spring.

In May, a female friend of mine, who is also a journalist from China, wrote of her experiences on her WeChat page.

She told how an elderly woman stopped her in front of a supermarket near her apartment to berate her for wearing a mask in the street, saying this would panic local residents.

The woman's views were shared by many Russians at the time, but now more of them are willing to follow the government's prevention measures.

On Oct 27, Russian public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor issued another national order as the country set a single-day record for coronavirus deaths amid a resurgence of new cases.

Face masks must now be worn in crowded public areas, on public transportation including taxis, in parking lots and elevators.

Although Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said last Thursday that authorities in the capital are not planning any severe restrictions despite the pandemic tightening its grip on Europe, there are clear signs that measures have been tightened.

More police and law enforcement officers have been posted at entrances to subway stations to issue fines to those not wearing masks.

Since Sept 1, more than 46,000 people in Moscow have been fined for not covering their faces, Yevgeny Danchikov, head of Moscow's Main Control Directorate said.

Alexander Zasedatelev, a friend of mine who runs a small trading company, said:"We want to wear a mask now when going shopping or taking public transportation, and not just to comply with the law enforcement order.

"We know just how serious and contagious COVID-19 is. My friends and I now believe that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing can help prevent the virus spreading.

"Furthermore, my company cannot afford another lockdown. So, I really hope the pandemic will end as a result of everyone's efforts and the help of vaccines."

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