Going to the post office is not among those activities permitted under Moscow's "strict" quarantine measure. However, the post office - and many other businesses and service, are still open. Here, a group is waiting in line for the post office. Only one person is allowed in the building at a time. The rest are outside practicing generous social distancing.

Quarantine Diaries: Настроение и принятые меры

Published: April 14, 2020

Quarantine Diaries is a series of free language lessons. Each can take a variety of forms but all focus on building intermediate and advanced vocabulary and listening skills. The following bilingual text was created from a blog entry by SRAS Assistant Director Josh Wilson on SRAS.org. It has been reformatted here as a Russian MiniLesson. Read the text and familiarize yourself with the new vocabulary (you can hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation). Then, watch the related video below and see if you can answer the questions!

Настроение in Moscow is спокойное. We are now in четвертая неделя карантина.

Меры против распространения коронавируса have been gradually introduced during this time. The initial закрытие университетов, большинства школ, cafes, bars, and nightclubs, было объявлено on March 17 and было произведено on March 21. Since then, a similar pattern of broadcast-then-implement has followed with закрытие парков и игровых площадок, other “non-essential” businesses, and now ограничение передвижения by transport с помощью QR-кодов.

When announced on March 29, the initial режим самоизоляции sounded quite строго. However, мэр одновременно с этим объявил что контроль за соблюдением режима не будет жестким so long as the majority of Muscovites будут соблюдать режим добровольно. Enforcement to date определенно был нестрогим.

I live near two of Moscow’s крупных транспортных магистралей. I’d estimate the движение транспорта I’ve seen from my window в среднем, сократилось до уровня 60% от нормы in the first three weeks since the “lockdown.” Yandex Maps’ traffic measurements agree that this was true for most of the city.

Rush hour traffic at about 6pm on Tuesday, April 15, near the intersection of two major traffic arteries in Moscow. Traffic has greatly slowed, but not stopped.

A new объявление was made on Friday, April 10th. Starting the 15th, все, кто передвигается на личном или общественном транспорте must first, via a city website, получить QR-код с разрешением на поездку. The related штраф for not doing so is 4000 rubles (about $60). For a повторное нарушение, it rises to 5000. As of midday on Monday the 13th, 800,000 people получили пропуски). I’d estimate the traffic outside снизился до 30% от нормы over the weekend. Again, Yandex Maps seems to agree.

Движение пешеходов remains по большей части нерегулируемым. Пешеходы in my neighborhood number maybe 160% of normal. Yandex again seems to agree. Its индекс самоизоляции (“Self-Quarantine Index“) uses анонимные данные (anonymized data) from its various ubiquitous Yandex приложений, чтобы отслеживать how many people are moving around on the street. Although Moscow’s tourist attractions по большей части опустели, жилые кварталы have experienced what literally feels like a week of Sundays.

“Self-isolation is not just a word. It saves lives.” A public service billboard along a major traffic artery in Moscow.

These pedestrians are obviously not just выгуливают собак or идут в магазин или аптеку, согласно официальному разрешению. Many are just вышли подышать while соблюдая дистанцию and позволяя детям немного погулять. The патрульные машины regularly passing by seem совершенно безразличными (altogether unconcerned) with them.

The same announcement for the vehicular QR codes also said that local foot traffic would not be yet subject to enforcement. Over the last two weeks, only 1500 fines have been issued за несоблюдение обязательной дистанции of 1.5 meters. For a city of 12.5 million, 1500 is an incredibly low number. I’ve seen local police, которая активно боролась small groups of men that собираются вместе, чтобы выпить и пообщаться. I assume this policy is in effect по всему городу and mostly explains those relatively few fines given.

Продуктовые магазины продолжают работать as they always have, внося свой вклад в ощущение спокойствия. Although they приспосабливались к повышенному спросу for a time, shelves are mostly full again. Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and eggs were never в недостатке. Staples like buckwheat, pasta, and flour have returned to their normal shelf space. This has been assisted by a Soviet-era program that предписывает a certain amount of food храниться на складах at all times. Since then, food has continually rotated in and out of these facilities. This смягчило последствия unexpected повышения спроса or снижения объема поставок.

A street scene in northern Moscow. Note the people in the distance and the person standing at the news kiosk (grey box to the right of the sidewalk), which is also open.

Public transport, although largely empty, also continues to run с той же частотой, что и раньше. Groups of дворников and работников ЖКХ продолжают свою работу, repainting playgrounds, repairing city pipes, and now обеззараживая apartment building staircases and elevators regularly. Many промышленные предприятия have also been allowed to keep working, although с введением дополнительных санитарных норм. This has all also helped maintain a sense of normalcy.

Russia’s response to всемирный кризис здравоохранения looks very different from that taken by many other countries. In fact, all countries have taken an индивидуальный подход to the crisis and on their own time scale. Ukraine, for instance, закрыла границы (shut its borders) and most of its economy практически за один день. Germany, meanwhile, opted to замедлить экономику при помощи усиления мер предосторожности. Sweden has allowed cafes to remain open, although с ограничениями на количество людей в зале.

Высокопоставленные политики (policymakers) and экспертно-аналитические центры (think tanks) around the world will hopefully be busy for the next many years analyzing these different policies, their social and economic contexts, and их влияние на здоровье граждан и экономику своих стран (their effects on local health and economies).

In the meantime, жизнь в Москве продолжается. Ограничений становится больше, but are not yet nearly as strict as many other places globally. For now, life is focusing on what can be done в пределах своего района и квартиры and over the Internet. Как оказалось, that is actually довольно большое количество дел…

Below, you can see the official announcement from Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of the implementation of the new QR codes below. You can find a full transcript of the video here.

Listening Comprehension

Медицинские организации, органы власти, правоохранительные органы, финансовые структуры, предприятия связи и транспорта, средства массовой информации.

На первом этапе - для поездок на работу, на втором - для поездок в других целях.

About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Josh lived in Moscow from 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS, until 2022. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Internship Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Josh Wilson

Alex Sitnikov

Alex Sitnikov

Alex holds a BA in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) and an MA in Translation. He came to Moscow from Tolyatti to study at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2013 and has been in love with the city ever since. Alex coordinates student activities in Moscow for SRAS. When he’s not occupied with that, Alex likes to play guitar, sing, read, play videogames, and make YouTube videos.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Alex Sitnikov