Coronavirus News Asia

Russia halts air travel, shuts borders

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Citing “the health, life and safety” of the Russian people as an “absolute priority,” President Vladimir Putin backed a Russian government decree to halt all international flights from midnight on Friday, alongside new measures against Covid-19. 

The decree published on Thursday orders aviation authorities to halt all regular and charter flights, with the exception of special flights evacuating Russian citizens from abroad, AFP reported. 

Russia’s civil aviation agency Rosaviatsiya will halt “regular and charter air travel from Russian airports to airports of foreign states and back,” according to the decree published on the government’s website, the report said. 

The grounding started at midnight Friday, or 2100 GMT Thursday. 

The country closed borders to foreigners on March 16, while Moscow has imposed its own stricter measures, requiring people over 65 to shelter at home, the report said. 

President Putin postponed a vote on constitutional reforms and urged Russians to stay home to contain the coronavirus, the report said. 

In a rare televised address to the nation, Putin didn’t hold back, saying Russia could not isolate itself from the spreading pandemic but focused mainly on support for the struggling economy. 

“The health, life and safety of people is our absolute priority,” Putin said. 

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