Ukraine: Protesters, police clash at Kiev anti-lockdown rally
Ukrainian entrepreneurs protest against the government’s desire to restrict business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic
KIEV – The Ukrainian government is ready to return to the issue of strengthening quarantine at the beginning of January 2021 if the situation in the country with the spread of coronavirus infection worsens.
Prime Minister Denis Shmygal said this on December 4 during the hour of questions to the government in the Verkhovna Rada.
“In the month of December, we do not plan, apart from the current restrictions regarding the orange zone, in which Ukraine is located, to strengthen other quarantine measures. We can predict what the medical system will withstand. The Minister of Health announced this today. If we talk about the introduction of tougher measures, it is obvious that if the situation deteriorates, then we can raise this issue in early January, “Shmyhal said, according to the National News Agency” Ukrinform “.
According to the Center for Public Health, as of December 4, 15,131 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 were recorded in Ukraine. Among the sick there are 649 children and 681 health workers. The number of active cases is 376,887 people.
From November 11 to November 30, a weekend quarantine was in effect in Ukraine. According to the government decree, catering establishments were closed on Saturday and Sunday – bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, fitness centers, swimming pools, shopping and entertainment centers and other entertainment establishments.
Health Minister Maxim Stepanov said on December 4 that “this week, thanks to the weekend quarantine, fewer new cases of COVID-19 are recorded, compared to last week.”.
“For example, today the number of diagnosed patients is one thousand less. […] The maximum effect we expected from him was a twenty percent reduction in the number of new cases. Probably, we have reached the maximum indicator “, – said Maxim Stepanov, according to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.
US assistance during a pandemic
Since March 2020, USAID has provided Ukraine with additional $ 19 million in support to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. In total, at the moment, the US government has allocated $ 41 million to assist Ukraine in measures to counter COVID-19, it is noted on October 30 in a press release from the US Embassy in Ukraine..
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put Ukrainian hospitals in a difficult position because they do not have enough specialized equipment to provide patients with oxygen. […] But the supply of these devices is just one of the elements of much larger USAID events in Ukraine, the purpose of which is to provide Ukrainian doctors with the equipment they need, ”said USAID Mission Director in Ukraine Jim Hope.
In case of strict quarantine – compensation
According to the government portal of executive authorities on December 4, the Verkhovna Rada approved bills that provide for a one-time compensation in the amount of eight thousand hryvnia (about $ 280 – TB).
“Assistance can be provided to employees who have lost part of their wages due to increased quarantine, and individual entrepreneurs who have lost part of their income due to the ban on full-fledged functioning,” the government’s website says..
One-time financial assistance will be provided in case of “introduction of strict quarantine”.
The Ukrainian press reports that representatives of small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs marched across Kiev on December 4, demanding not to impose strict quarantine. On his Facebook page, the chairman of the Union for the Protection of Entrepreneurship of Ukraine Serhiy Dorotych urged not to introduce quarantine and said that the business must work.
“For Ukraine and Ukrainians to survive, we need a working business, the whole, without exception. We support medicine with taxes, and with employees’ salaries, ”wrote Sergey Dorotich on his page..
Previous lockdown. results
Director of the Institute for the Information Society Yaroslav Pavlovsky notes that the experience of the previous lockdown in spring 2020 did not affect the decrease in the dynamics of coronavirus disease in the country.
“Lockdown is necessary in order to prepare the health care system, to reboot the possibilities for the fight against coronavirus, to do something with renewed vigor in the field of medicine. Unfortunately, until now, the central government has shown us that it did not use the lockdown time to strengthen the fight against coronavirus, ”Yaroslav Pavlovsky says to the Voice of America correspondent..
He notes that the possible introduction of severe restrictions on the economy from January 2021 is unlikely to affect the situation with the pandemic..
“And the amount that they intend to allocate to entrepreneurs – eight thousand hryvnia – does not reflect the real costs. It looks like it was taken from the ceiling to show that the central government is doing something, ”emphasizes Yaroslav Pavlovsky.
In a pandemic, material compensation is also not a solution to all problems for representatives of small and medium-sized businesses, notes Yaroslav Pavlovsky.
Weighted action or vanity?
Political strategist Dmitry Bachevsky believes that the postponement of the lockdown, which was talked about in the press, and it was supposed to be introduced from December 2020, is not connected “with an increase in the readiness of the medical system to fight the epidemic, but is dictated by the authorities’ fear of the socio-economic consequences of such a step.”.
“The number of sick and dead is growing every day, and there is no improvement. The authorities justify the constant postponement of the lockdown introduction by the fact that, allegedly, the critical point is constantly being pushed back due to the introduction of new beds with oxygen. However, the situation in the regions has long been catastrophic and continues to deteriorate, ”Dmitry Bachevsky told the Voice of America Russian Service correspondent..
He notes that the authorities must understand that a lockdown of the economy can lead to the halt of tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses..
“Lockdown will be the last fatal blow from which these businesses will never recover. And the protest environment will be replenished with hundreds of thousands of angry and hungry people, ”emphasizes Dmitry Bachevsky.
At the same time, according to the political strategist, “any action or inaction will lead to a worsening of the situation in the country and will finally undermine the public’s confidence in the authorities.”.
“Therefore, they will do their best to hold out until the vaccines appear in the country, which will have to bring down the wave of the epidemic,” says Dmitry Bachevsky.