Ukraine tightens lockdown, shuts schools, restaurants

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukraine closed schools, restaurants and gyms on Friday as a tighter nationwide lockdown took effect to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the nation of 41 million people, Reuters reported.

The country has registered more than 1 million coronavirus cases with 19,588 deaths as of 8 January. The government had decided on the January lockdown in early December, when Ukraine was at the peak of the epidemic and the number of new cases stood at around 12,000-14,000 a day.

The new measures, which include the closure of entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force until 24 January.

Despite calls to ease the lockdown or even cancel it, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Health Minister Maksym Stepanov have said the restrictions were urgently needed. "By introducing a stricter quarantine from tomorrow, we will avoid a large increase in patients with both Covid-19 and the usual seasonal flu," Stepanov said, according to a statement on Thursday.

The number of new cases dropped in early January and this, together with the decision to leave public transport and some non-critical businesses operating, prompted local authorities and businesses to criticise the new restrictions.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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