As scientists focus on finding a solution to the coronavirus pandemic, governments around the world are taking steps to ensure the safety of their citizens. Measures include quarantine for suspected cases, travel restriction to and from the affected areas, and equipping existing facilities so that they can successfully treat the infected.
Russia is also making moves to protect its citizens and the foreigners visiting the country. The government stated that no risk is going to be taken.
Just at the end of 2019, the Russian authorities had launched new electronic visas that allow foreign citizens to obtain a travel authorization for specific Russian regions online in minutes. Citizens from countries now heavily affected by the novel coronavirus are among the eligible nationals.
This is just one of the many plans — including airport and infrastructure renovations and new direct flights — in place to boost international tourism and attract foreign investment and arrivals.
However, Russia has now had to take precautionary steps back. The first one was to cancel flights to China. Then, entry into Russia was forbidden for almost all foreign visitors.
COVID-19: Who Can Travel to Russia?
As the coronavirus outbreak developed into a pandemic, the Russian government has prohibited entry for almost all foreigners. This is to prevent the disease from spreading further internationally.
Some exceptions apply. Among them:
- British nationals and residents of the United Kingdom if arriving from the United Kingdom
- Nationals and residents of Egypt if arriving from Egypt
- Nationals and residents of Maldives if arriving from the Maldives
- Nationals and residents of Switzerland if arriving from Switzerland
- Nationals and residents of Tanzania if arriving from Tanzania
- Nationals and residents of Turkey if arriving from Turkey
- Nationals and residents of the United Arab Emirates if arriving from the United Arab Emirates
- Until the 31st of October 2020, participants, press and honored guests of the Formula 1 FIA race in Sochi
Nationals and residents of the Russian Federation, as well as their families, can enter the country.
Mandatory coronavirus health certificate for Russia
Foreign passengers who are not affected by the travel ban must present a medical certificate with negative COVID-19 test results that are no older than 72 hours.
Nationals and residents of the Russian Federation are exempted.
Passengers transiting through Russia must also have recent negative PCR test results. This does not apply to Russian citizens.
Why Did Russia Cancel Flights to China?
The novel coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. The virus can be lethal. At the moment, there is no vaccine available against the coronavirus.
At the beginning of the pandemic, over 95% of cases were located in China and the majority of these have occurred in the Hubei province. In the center of the epidemic, people were advised to only leave the house for essential reasons while transport connections to and from the affected cities are being interrupted.
Following the Chinese lead, several countries around the world initially suspended flights to and/or from China. Among them, Russia.
When the virus spread internationally and the outbreak turned into a pandemic, restrictions and precautions were extended to other countries.
What Is the Risk of Coronavirus in China?
The pandemic is a developing situation and all travelers are advised to check the latest changes in cases and regulations before departure.
At the moment, there are active cases of coronavirus in Russia. Foreigners who reach the Federation should follow the government’s advice, which includes:
- Washing the hands often
- Maintaining social distance especially indoors
- Using a face mask
Failing to do so may result in fines. Quarantine and restrictions to movement and activities may be implemented at a moment’s notice should the need arise.
The Closure of Russian Borders
Russia’s eastern regions border directly with China for a total of 2,670 miles (4,300 kilometers). That’s why 3 Far East regions have closed their borders with China. Originally, the closure was to stay in place only until February 2020. The Russian news agency TASS reported that the affected areas were:
- The Jewish Autonomous Oblast
- Khabarovsk Oblast
- Amur Oblast.
The Closure of Borders in Eastern Russia
Russia’s eastern regions border directly with China for a total of 2,670 miles (4,300 kilometers). That’s why three Far East regions have closed their borders with China until the 7th of February 2020. The Russian news agency TASS reports that the affected areas are:
- The Jewish Autonomous Oblast
- Khabarovsk Oblast
- Amur Oblast
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his website:
“We have taken special control of hotels and other places where tourists gather […] When alarming signs appear, emergency medical teams will be sent to carry out a thorough examination.”
On March 30, 2020, the rest of the Russian borders were closed as the number of cases worldwide rose. The civil aviation authority was also ordered to suspend all regular and charter flights to and from Russia from March 27.
Closing borders is a temporary, cautionary measure. Russia has shown great interest in better and easier movement into and from China. In fact, the completion of the works for the first bridge between Russia and China was recently announced, with the inauguration expected later in 2020.
FAQ’s Related with Russian Restrictions
The issuance of Russian electronic visas for the Far East District, Kaliningrad Oblast, and St Petersburg and Leningrad has been suspended on the 18th of March, 2020 and has not been resumed yet.
Once the special anti-COVID travel restrictions are lifted and the global pandemic is under control, eligible foreigners will be able to apply for their Russian visa online as usual.
The Russian government welcomes and encourages international tourism. As soon as the extraordinary measures and restrictions currently in place to fight COVID-19 are removed, foreign nationals will again be allowed to enter the country with an electronic visa.
At the moment, the vast majority of foreign citizens are not allowed into Russia although some exceptions apply to the travel ban. This is to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading across the country. It is very unlikely, therefore, that eVisa holders can enter Russia without contacting a Russian embassy or consulate and obtain permission first.