Before the government began imposing lockdowns in Russia as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the country’s citizens stockpiled a large amount of cash, Bloomberg reports citing data from the Bank of Russia.
Since the beginning of March, Russians withdrew about 1 trillion rubles ($13.6 billion) from ATMs and bank branches, more than during the whole of last year, the data shows, according to the news outlet.
“People were afraid that banks will be unavailable during the quarantine,” said Denis Poryvay, an analyst at Raiffeisenbank in Moscow. “They withdrew money for the same reason as people hoarded food.”
Daily spikes in withdrawals coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s regular televised briefings outlining measures being taken to fight the coronavirus. There was a jump in money being taken out after Putin announced a tax on bank deposits of over 1 million rubles, and more cash was hoarded after he extended self-isolation measures until at least May.
Demand also surged in mid-March for basic groceries such as buckwheat and canned meat, retailers said.
Russia recorded its largest daily increase in coronavirus infections on Sunday, with new cases rising by more than 6,000 in 24 hours. Putin warned last week that the epidemic has yet to reach its peak in the country.