If you can’t force them, perhaps the only solution is to bribe them? Moscow’s mayor has ordered all over 65s to stay at home for almost three weeks and is offering a cash incentive to encourage them to comply.
The scheme will run from March 26 until April 14, and recipients will be paid a 4,000-ruble ($50) sweetener as motivation. If that seems low, bear in mind that prices of essentials are considerably lower in Russia than in North America and Western Europe, in dollar terms. For instance, a single bus ticket in Moscow is 44 rubles ($0.55), compared to $2.75 in New York, although most elderly travelers don’t have to pay for public transport in the Russian capital.
“You may not like it and may even oppose it, but trust me, it is prescribed by sincere concern for you,” the mayor said. As well as his role as Moscow mayor, Sobyanin has also been placed in charge of the State Council’s working group against coronavirus.
The city boss urged older Muscovites not to go to work unless they are absolutely vital for the operation of their organization, or if they are medical professionals.
“The rest of the elderly, or those suffering from chronic diseases, are required to be transferred to remote work, provided with paid leave or sent on sick leave,” he said.
The mayor also asked those in high-risk categories not to visit public places, apart from necessary trips to a shop or pharmacy.
Sobyanin further suggested that older Muscovites leave the city and go to the countryside, where they will be in less danger of contracting the virus. Many Russian families have second residences, known as dachas, at their disposal.
“If you have the opportunity, the best thing is to go to your dacha, especially as the weather in the coming days promises to be warm,” he advised. A dacha is a country house, commonly owned by people who live in big cities.
The mayor’s advice was not exclusively aimed at Moscow’s older citizens. Sobyanin also spoke to younger Muscovites and encouraged them to “refrain from personal communication with your parents, grandparents, and the elderly in general.”
Explaining his decisions, the mayor emphasized that the virus primarily threatens the elderly and those with chronic diseases and low immunity.
Of course, the decision to focus on people aged over 65 was immediately linked to President Vladimir Putin, who is 67 – two years over the mandatory self-isolation limit. Unsurprisingly, however, the decree does not apply to the president.
When asked by journalists, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the “work of the president, of course, exists outside the criteria specified.”
Russia currently has 438 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with over half of these located in Moscow.