Russia to shut border with Belarus over coronavirus

Russia will close its border with Belarus as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday.

“We will continue doing our utmost to protect our country against this new threat, be proactive, take exhaustive measures in order to prevent the mass spread of coronavirus,” Russia’s Tass news agency quoted the prime minister as saying.

When reached by BelaPAN on Monday morning, spokespersons for Belarus’ foreign ministry and State Border Committee (SBC) said that the agencies had not yet been formally notified by Russia of the border closure.

SBC spokesperson Anton Byčkoŭski said that he had no information about specifics such as “how [the border] will be closed” and “to whom it will be closed and to whom it will be opened.” “We have no border guards at the Russian border,” he told BelaPAN. “No decisions or changes have been made in this respect so far.”

Belarus’ four other neighbors - Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine - banned the entry of foreigners through their borders with Belarus earlier this month. Bus and passenger train services linking Belarus with these countries have been cancelled. Belarus’ national airline Belavia has cancelled its flights to destinations in some two dozen countries, including to the four nations.