Ukraine shuts down public transportation, domestic travel, restaurants
The Ukrainian government has toughened measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, shutting down all public transportation starting March 18 and most public spaces starting March 17. The limitations are to last till April 3.
In the early hours of March 17, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to support President Volodymyr Zelensky’s demand for urgent measures to stop the novel coronavirus. Ukraine so far had only seven confirmed cases of the virus, among the lowest numbers in Europe, and one death.
The government ordered that, starting from March 18:
- regular and non-regular travels by automobile transport between cities will be banned;
- subways must shut down in Kyiv, Dnipro, and Kharkiv (the only three cities in Ukraine that have subway systems);
- other city transport, such as buses and trams, must carry no more than 10 passengers at the same time.
- Railway transport must stop starting from March 18 and until further notice.
The government also ruled that:
- all events that bring together more than 10 people, including religious ones, are banned starting from March 17;
- cafes, restaurants, gyms, shopping malls, and entertainment venues must close starting from March 17.
Restaurants are allowed to deliver orders. Grocery and household stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations will remain open.
Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv took similar measures even before the government order, while Kharkiv has been the most reluctant among the big cities.
The government put the police in control of how the quarantine is executed.
The decree also recommends companies and government offices to move their work online, when possible, or switch to work in shifts.
Previously, Ukraine closed its borders to foreigners and halted international flights to Ukraine starting on March 17. Starting March 18, it will ban all domestic flights, too.
Ukrainian citizens will still be able to enter the country by car. Volodymyr Nikiforenko, deputy head of the State Border Service, said at a briefing on March 16. The government is also cooperating with the local authorities to organize bus transport for those citizens who arrive at the country’s western border on foot, as pedestrian border crossings are currently not operating.
“So, the option to cross the state border by car remains,” he said.