Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the country’s entry ban for Chinese nationals will be partial and affect only those who travel with tourist, private, student or work visas, Interfax reported.
Visitors with official, business, humanitarian or transit visas will still be allowed into the country, the ministry said, clarifying the conditions of a sweeping entry ban for Chinese citizens announced the day before.
The ban goes into effect Thursday at midnight Moscow time (2100 GMT). It was announced by the Russian government on Tuesday amid the new coronavirus outbreak centered in China that has infected more than 75,000 people worldwide.
The measure is one of many Russia has taken to keep the virus from spreading. The country so far has reported three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease — two Chinese citizens in Russia who were treated and released, and a Russian national infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Russia suspended all trains and most flights to China and North Korea, shut down its land border with China and Mongolia, and extended a school vacation for Chinese students until March 1. Hundreds of Russians who returned from China this year have been hospitalized as a precaution, and medics continue to monitor more than 14,000 people in total.
However, while some of these steps at first appeared sweeping, they turned out to have loopholes and caveats that allowed Russia to maintain its political and economic ties with China. Those ties became increasingly important for Moscow after its relations with the West soured over Russian’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and other disputes.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova argued that the entry ban was necessary because Russia lacks enough facilities to hospitalize all Chinese travelers who may have the virus.
“Ensuring quarantine conditions with permanent monitoring for thousands of travelers from China is unfeasible,” Golikova said.
As described Wednesday, this week’s partial entry ban would minimize the effect on business connections between China and Russia and on the operation of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, a major transit hub for Chinese tourists traveling to Europe.