KYIV, Nov 11 – Ukraine introduced ‘weekend lockdown’ throughout the country on Wednesday in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of the pandemic that had already crippled the economy and killed 8,947 people so far.
The measure, which will stay in effect through November 30, comes less than two months after the government had promised not to introduce any new lockdowns in order to support the economy.
"The 'weekend lockdown' is an opportunity to stop the progressive geometric development of the pandemic in Ukraine without stopping the economy,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Wednesday.
The new measures restricting social activity on weekends and holidays, reducing capacity of passenger transportation and shutting down night life entertainment, bars and restaurants come after Ukraine reported 10,611 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, and 191 new deaths caused, according to the Healthcare Ministry.
Ukraine may start running out of hospital beds if the number of daily cases reaches 20,000, and that will require new emergency measures, including potentially usage of sports facilities to accommodate patients.
Some medical experts in Ukraine were in favor of shutting the entire economy down for two weeks, but Shmyhal rejected that option as ineffective and economically more damaging.
"In three weeks the economy would suffer irreparable losses, we will not be able to complete this year without budget losses, without the fact that we will lose the ability to perform the social functions of the state," Shmyhal said.
The government will use its resources to support entrepreneurs while the ‘weekend lockdown’ is in effect.
"We understand that any restrictive measures affect the work of part of the business. Therefore, we will fully restore and expand the following support programs," Shmyhal said.
For example, partial compensation of the salaries of workers lost due to production downtime. "This is a partial unemployment program, thanks to which more than 450,000 jobs were saved in the spring and summer," Shmyhal said.
Shmyhal said the Cabinet of Ministers, after consulting with business and experts, chose a model of quarantine measures to ensure the functioning of the economy and prevent an overload of the medical system.
"France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and many other European countries, one after another, announce the introduction of lockdowns,” Shmyhal said. “Everyone understands they need to act, and quarantine measures are the most effective tool for breaking the chain of disease and saving people's lives.” (tl/ez)