Since the beginning of March 2020, our lives are changing every day in an unpredictable way. Obviously, since the first cases of coronavirus in St Petersburg were registered, our usual habits have become different.
Who could think a couple of months ago that we will be deprived of the freedom to travel, to leave our houses, and see nothing but COVID19 -related messages in mass media and Facebook news feed!
As for me, I planned to make a new section in this blog — spring and summer event calendar for Moscow and St Petersburg. I suppose that you already know that the period from April to September is a high tourist season in Russia. And it is so not only because of the weather. During these months, the concentration of interesting events reaches the peak. For instance, only in St. Petersburg there are at least 2 festivals, fests, competitions, etc. every WEEK!
Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether at least some of these events will take place this year. Even the huge international EURO2020 and Olympic games were postponed.
Thus, the appearance of coronavirus in St Petersburg transformed my editorial plan. I wanted to make posts which could help travellers to find nice accommodations or places where to eat or hang out in Moscow and St Petersburg. But now I am not even sure all those places will survive the tourist crisis 🙁 Nothing left to do but to wait and see.
What’s In St Petersburg At Present?
All opinions are my own. You are free to agree or disagree.
In general, in Russia, the number of coronavirus cases grows every day. And restrictive measures change almost every day. I have to mention that every Russian region has its own restrictions depending on how serious the situation is.
At present, the most affected region is obviously Moscow. Not only because Moscow is the most populated city in Russia. All international flights land in Moscow airports, thus, all passengers from those flights are tested/quarantined in Moscow too.
As mass media say, there are more than 150 000 Russians who are stuck abroad, including tourists “locked” in countries affected by the coronavirus. How many of them would be tested positive?
So how has life in St Petersburg changed since the beginning of March?
— The week from March 30 to April 5 will be a week off for all Russians. Everything except for grocery stores, pharmacies, private and public medical clinics, and gas stations is supposed to be closed.
— Schools, universities, and kindergartens are closed. Exams are postponed from spring to summer.
— Until April 30, any cultural, sports and leisure activities with more than 50 participants are banned. Theatres, museums, cinemas, food courts and fitness rooms are completely closed.
— All major major parks, gardens and squares are closed, including Peterhof, Gatchina and Tsarskoye Selo.
— Restaurants, bars, children’s playrooms, entertainment centres are closed.
— Public transport changed its schedules but in general, it is operating.
— Officially, it’s not forbidden to go outside. However, local authorities highly advise to stay at home and practice social distancing.
— There are rumours that intercity routes (places, trains, buses) will also be restricted.
— Some people are obviously panicking. However, 99,9% of people stay in their right mind. Though everyday life in 2020 is not a usual life, one day we will come back to our freedom.
By the way, on March 28, we had Russia’s first criminal case of the threat of massive coronavirus infection. How did it happen?
Mr X (let’s call him this) came back to St Petersburg from Switzerland on March 21 and had to self-quarantine (stay at home for 2 weeks). In a couple of days, he decided to leave his apartment.
After that, Mr X was sent to compulsory quarantine. And once again he got out of the locked hospital room through the window and went down from the 4th floor. He escaped from there because… he did not want to celebrate his anniversary being quarantined!
Nobody knows what punishment Mr X could get. It’s not clear how to deal with this kind of behaviour. Is it worth a prison? Or a fine will be enough?
Cultural Life In Russia Goes On
The good thing is that cultural life has not stopped. On the contrary, it’s exploded (virtually). For example, the Hermitage Museum makes extremely interesting online tours — they show things which are usually not accessible to tourists. For instance, they show the backstage of restorers work, or what is hidden in the storage rooms of the museums.
If you speak Russian, I advise you to take a look at all those treasures. If not, you can take a virtual tour of the Hermitage Museum (in English)
Moreover, many theatres and concert halls launch online broadcastings of their performances. Ballets, plays, concerts have gone online thanks to the internet!
There is no long-term schedule for theatre performances. For this reason, I decided to post events announcements on my Facebook page. There will be a post pinned to the top. I will update it as I find new online entertainment. I will choose only performances which could be interesting to those who don’t speak Russian (thus, for example, you won’t find any plays in the Russian language).
By the way, if you want to watch something beautiful right now, here is a shortlist for music and ballet lovers (to watch on Youtube):
- Ballet “Swan Lake” by the Kremlin Ballet in Moscow — a classical ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
- Ballet “Nutcracker” by the Kremlin Ballet in Moscow — another splendid ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, one of the most beautiful fairy-tales
- Dmitry Shostakovich, Ludwig van Beethoven and Pyotr Tchaikovsky performed by the Mariinsky Theater String Quartet
- Violin: From Classics To Electronic ( from the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg) — if by any reason you thought that violins were boring, this concert will certainly change your mind!
To sum up, life goes on though it’s not a kind of life we expected 🙂 I know that many travellers who planned to travel to Russia these days were disappointed to cancel their trips. That’s absolutely understandable — we don’t like to lose our holidays.
However, keep in mind that if you had come to Russia in March, you wouldn’t have the possibility to see local attractions as they are closed.
Let me know how things are going in your countries/cities. Has the pandemic affected your travel plans?
Best wishes from Russia,