"Almost all of Russia switches to lockdown, some of the most severe measures taken in Crimea", "Strict quarantine: a self-isolation regime begins in Crimea", "Quarantine violators to be caught in Crimea", "Fines for violating self-isolation to be increased in Crimea", "Mandatory self-isolation introduced in Crimea for all arrivals from other regions of Russian Federation". Such headlines can be found in the Russian media today. Judging by them, the peninsula should be in the top according to the number of COVID-19 cases. However, the Crimea, artificially assigned to the Russian Federation by the Russian authorities, occupies in their statistics only 36th place in terms of the number of infected people.
"Quite tough measures were introduced over the past two weeks. Many questions arise why this is happening. After all, not all regions of Russia, where there are many times more cases of infection, are introducing such measures. Either they do not tell us the truth, or carry out some experiment on us. It is rumored that the Crimea is being prepared in such a way as a place where all patients with coronavirus in Russia will be treated. They decided to ban everything at one fell swoop, including traveling by car and walking. If other countries and regions introduced restrictive measures gradually, we suffered and denied for a long time at first, and then abruptly decided to ban everything", - local resident of the peninsula Svetlana tells OstroV.
According to her, the so-called local authorities could not properly prepare the region for such strict quarantine measures, and many residents express their dissatisfaction on forums and social networks. Indeed, with a fairly low level of COVID-19 diseases in the Crimea, it is forbidden to leave home until April 30, except for the need to travel to work, walk with a pet, seek emergency medical care, go to a pharmacy or a grocery store. In addition, the long-expected 2020 tourist season, which is the only way to make money for many locals, is in doubt.
"The situation is quite frightening. Not only is everyone now forced to sit home without work, the tourist season also remains doubtful. It is clear that no one is going to compensate for anything, but this is a matter of survival for the thousands of Crimeans involved in tourism business", - Svetlana says.
Isolation from Russia and strict quarantine
In a short time, the Crimea went from denying the need for quarantine to one of the strictest measures in all of Russia. They are stricter only in Moscow, where the number of infected is 350 times greater than on the annexed peninsula. As of April 15, 34 cases of coronavirus COVID-19 were recorded in the occupied Crimea and 8 cases – in Sevastopol.
Strict restrictions are applied on the peninsula from April 3 to 30. In particular, all citizens are required to remain at their place of residence (stay), except in exception cases:
- seeking emergency medical care;
- a trip to the nearest store or pharmacy;
- dog walking at a distance of not more than 100 meters from the house;
- taking out the trash.
Going to work, if the organization's activity is not suspended by the authorities, is exception as well.
For those who still go to work, it is now necessary to carry a special certificate from the employer (you can also apply online), which confirms the right to move freely. Similarly, the ban applies to the right to travel by a private car.
"Those citizens who have the right to move can use private vehicles. Those citizens who have received moving certificates from their employers. That is, to work, in order to get to some facilities related to the performance of production and official duties, but not for personal purposes", - so-called "Deputy Prime Minister" Yulia Zhukova explained.
Moreover, new strict measures were introduced in the Crimea from April 14:
- residents of the peninsula are prohibited from visiting cemeteries, with the exception of registration of burial services and participation in burials,
- citizens over the age of 65, as well as those who have chronic diseases, are prohibited from leaving their place of residence, with the exception of a direct threat to life and health,
- rotational shiftwork is terminated in the Crimea.
"The restrictions do not apply to employees of organizations, whose presence at the workplace is critical", - the occupation authorities emphasize.
Pensioners who want to go out must get a special pass, and this can only be an emergency. In other cases, the "authorities" promise to provide them with medicines, products and everything necessary with the help of volunteers;
"If it becomes necessary to take urgent actions with a personal presence, citizens over the age of 65 must necessarily contact the administration of the municipal formation at the place of registration to obtain the appropriate pass", - so-called "head of the government" of the Crimea Yuriy Gotsaniuk informed.
As for the passes for people over 65, this rule is not implemented as of April 14. Several pensioners in the occupied Crimea told OstroV that they did not know where to call and where to get this pass.
"They announced the rule with the passes, but we do not understand where to get them. I went to the pharmacy and the store this morning. There are few people. No one was stopped or fined. I wanted to buy a mask and paracetamol in the pharmacy, but they were not available. They do not know when the deliveries will take place. Nothing works apart from grocery stores and pharmacies. Public transport runs, but less often", - pensioner from Yevpatoria Igor told our agency.
"I went with my friend for a walk to the sea this afternoon (April 13), there were few people. Mostly pensioners and young people with children. Many people were in home-made masks, because they could not be bought in pharmacies. There is talk that everyone who walks in the parks will be fined from April 15, and while the explanatory regime is in effect, without fines, people do not stay at home", - resident of Sevastopol Raisa told.
In addition, a mandatory two-week self-isolation was introduced in the Crimea for all arriving from abroad and other regions of the Russian Federation. If people from other countries are sent to quarantine (self-isolation, observation) in Ukraine, as in most other countries, then in the Crimea, this rule applies to all those who enter from mainland Russia.
A fine of 4 thousand rubles ($54) is provided for the violation, for the repeated one – 5 thousand rubles ($68). The local "authorities" also threaten those who, knowing their diagnosis or coming from other regions, violated self-isolation with criminal cases. One such criminal case has already been opened for the violation of self-isolation under Art. 236 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules): a Crimean infected a doctor in a private clinic and a member of the doctor's family through him.
The Sevastopol "authorities" went even further and introduced mandatory self-isolation for everyone entering Sevastopol, even from other Crimean cities. If a person entering the city has his own housing, he is obliged to conduct a mandatory two-week quarantine there, if not – in one of the two observers and on a paid basis.
"This is the principled position of our governor: the city should not pay for idly walking people who, despite the current regime of self-isolation in the country, decide to come", - the press service of the so-called "government" of Sevastopol stated.
The city authorities allocated two bases for the needs of those who nevertheless decide to be observed – Emerald and Little Sun boarding houses. One day there will cost 1750 rubles ($24), for parking the car you will have to pay separately 200 rubles per day ($3).
The occupation authorities of the city note that so far, no one has been found willing to ensure his/her self-isolation under such conditions.
"As practice at the established sanitary control points shows, when these conditions are explained to the entrants, everyone immediately expresses a desire to return to his/her home, where they came from", - the Sevastopol "government" press service reports.
There will be (no) tourist season
The Crimeans are afraid of the disruption of tourist season most of all. Perhaps, it is not worth explaining that a large number of local residents live off tourists: they earn enough during the summer season for a whole year. If quarantine is continued and people cannot earn thanks to the tourist season, they will be without means of subsistence for at least one year.
Initially (before strict quarantine was announced), the occupation authorities made rather optimistic forecasts. According to so-called head of the Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, the pandemic could bring a record increase in tourist flow for the peninsula.
"China will close, Asian countries will close, I do not exclude that the Crimean destination will be super-demanded… Therefore, in my opinion, it is better to focus on good service and price matching with this quality. Now, if we can withstand it, then, respectively, the Crimea will have a perspective as the resort", - he said on March 10, 2020.
At the same time, the "Minister" of resorts and tourism of the Crimea Vadym Volchenko said that an increase in the number of reservations from leading federal tour operators was recorded on the peninsula, despite the situation with COVID-2019 in the world.
But two weeks later, Sergey Aksyonov changed his tune and urged not to increase the tourist flow to the Crimea.
"I am convinced that by telling tourists "all come to the Crimea", we thereby increase the risk of spreading the infection and jeopardize the whole season in general. Therefore, do not artificially increase the number of tourists and do not take additional measures to occupy sanatoriums", - he stated on March 25.
According to the so-called "head of the republic", increasing tourist flow is "a risk of infecting everything that is possible in the Crimea".
After that, he signed a decree banning the reservation of places for recreation in sanatoriums, hotels and children's camps of the republic and accommodation services in them from March 28 to June 1. According to the occupation authorities, the Crimea misses at least one million tourists only during this period.
"From March 28 to June 1, 2020, the reservation of places, reception and accommodation of citizens in holiday hotels, vacation houses, sanatoriums and resort organizations, all-year children's recreation camps, hotels and other accommodation facilities located in the Republic of Crimea is temporarily suspended, with the exception of persons on official business trips or work trips", - the statement of the occupation "ministry" of the republic's resorts said.
In addition, the Crimeans and visitors to the peninsula are urged to limit travels, including for tourism and recreation purposes.
The local realtors told OstroV that big hotels and had indeed stopped accepting reservations until June 1. However, with regard to the smaller and illegal rental market, the prohibitions are less strict there.
"Of course, all major hotels, vacation houses and resorts stopped accepting reservations until June 1. But if you want to book after, you are welcome. I also know of cases when they can be booked informally, not through the website, but simply by calling the director and speaking with him. This is mainly what tour operators involved in group tourism do. As for small hotels or apartments, everything is rented out, reservations are open. Prices are ready to be reduced to 50% by June 1. What is interesting, there are those who wish. The Russians book accommodation for the second half of May, however, they are not in a hurry with prepayment. Even when the owner demands some kind of earnest payment, tenants refer to quarantine and book "on their word". I now receive a lot of calls from my regular customers that they are ready to make large discounts in May-June, if only someone came", - realtor from Sevastopol Yekaterina Stepanovna told our agency.
According to her, private houses along the South Coast with their own yard or garden are in special demand now. Tourists from the mainland of the Russian Federation are ready to come even during quarantine with the condition of a mandatory two-week observation.
"I received several requests from mainland Russia on the May holidays. People want to come to a separate house for a couple of weeks just to get some fresh air. They do not need to go on excursions, they just be pleased with territory of the house. If you live in an apartment in Moscow, this is quite a good option, even during quarantine", - she added.
The occupation authorities also recognize the fact that the attempts to illegally book and place tourists "in objects that operate illegally" are being recorded on the peninsula. They even announced a kind of "hunt" for those who continue to rent out housing for tourists during the quarantine period.
"Unfortunately, we are now recording attempts to book and accommodate in some small hotels in the Crimea, this is subject to administrative and, in some cases, criminal prosecution. Dear Crimeans! If you see commercial accommodation in mini-hotels or private apartments, being conscious citizens, report to the Ministry of Resorts hotline", - so-called head of the Ministry of Resorts and Tourism of the Crimea Vadim Volchenko stated.
As for the latest statements of the occupation authorities regarding the 2020 tourist season, they are already trying to more carefully predict the situation.
"They ask me whether a resort season will be. But I cannot say whether it will be or not. We do not understand how the situation will develop, it depends on each of us. If we strictly observe all safety measures, there are good prospects that we will defeat the infection in a fairly short time, and the season will take place", - Sergey Aksyonov stated at a recent meeting of the operational headquarters to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection.
At the same time, the tourism industry froze in anticipation of the end of quarantine and in the hope that the season would begin on June 1.
"We hope that the season will anyway begin from June 1, we will somehow survive. If it is moved further, the result will be disastrous: we will miss half of our facilities in the fall. We can save the workers, but we have not thought about the entrepreneur yet", - head of the Association of Small Hotels of the Crimea Natalya Parkhomenko considers.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV