Ukraine orders weekend shutdowns in COVID-19 battle

by | Nov 27, 2020 | News

KOROSTYSHIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian government ordered weekend business shutdowns and quarantines throughout the country in a bid to flatten the curve of positive COVID-19 tests.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said numbers were likely to decrease after the first two weeks of the new rules, but if they were not followed, and daily new COVID-19 cases were not brought below 12,000, Ukraine might face another full lockdown.

“If the numbers are not changing, we might run out of the hospital beds by the end of the month,” Shmyhal said.

All businesses involved in public catering and entertainment were to be closed and no fans or visitors were allowed at sports or cultural events between Nov. 14 and Nov. 30.

The measure was greeted with skepticism in many regions.

“COVID-19 exists equally on weekends and weekdays,” Yulia Synhaievska, an 18-year-old student, said. “There is no point in shutting everything down just for the weekends since people will find ways to socialize during the workdays and no one will benefit from it.”

Small businesses were expected to suffer most from the new orders.

An employee at the Absolut restaurant in Korostyshiv called the government’s decision “nonsense” and questioned the lack of financial support businesses have been provided.

Some businesses have continued to operate clandestinely and some regions planned to defy the latest rules.

“These rules are unfair,” said 19-year-old Ukrainian Maksym Kalinichenko, a Humber College student. “Law-abiding businesses are losing their income because of the shutdown, while those who work illegally benefit from it.”

In Lviv, one of the oldest and most picturesque cities in Ukraine, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said all “malls, fitness centres, shops, cafes, and other businesses are allowed to have customers from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., subject to quarantine regulations.”

”People have the right to labour,” Sadovyi said. The Ukrainian government prohibited local authorities from implementing any changes in quarantine restrictions.

But some businesses are likely to shut down completely as a result of the weekend quarantine.

Planeta Kino, one of the popular cinema networks, said 80 per cent of its income is made during weekends.

Dmytro Derkach, co-owner of Planeta Kino movie theatres, said on his Facebook account “they will keep working for a week or two and will probably have to close all the cinemas and fire 500 people.”

Meanwhile, the government warned if hospitals reach full occupancy, a full lockdown will be applied across the country.

To cushion the impact of quarantine rules, Shmyhal announced support measures including cheap lending, child benefits, and compensation for employees and sole proprietors, which will be taken in the case of a full lockdown.