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Coronavirus: Moscow ends lockdown as infection rate decreases

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A woman wearing a protective face mask walks in front of the Saint Basil's Cathedral during the annual book fair on the Red Square in downtown Moscow on June 6, 2020
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks in front of the Saint Basil's Cathedral during the annual book fair on the Red Square in downtown Moscow on June 6, 2020   -   Copyright  KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
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Moscow is ending a lockdown that has been in place for more than two months as Russia reports fewer daily coronavirus cases.

From Tuesday, residents will be able to walk and use public transport without restrictions.

Hairdressers are allowed to reopen on the same day, while cafes and restaurants will be able to open outdoor terraces from June 16, Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told journalists.

"Finally, on 23 June we plan to lift the restrictions on the sports industry, reopen swimming pools, health and fitness centres. Passenger navigation on the Moscow river will resume", he added.

The number of new daily cases in the Russian capital has decreased from a peak of more than 6,000 a day, but there are still around 2,000 new cases a day.

The lockdown came into effect in late March. Residents were only allowed to shop at essential businesses such as groceries and pharmacies.

Industrial plants and construction sites reopened on May 12 and other retail stores opened last week.

Russia has registered more than 480,000 infections, the world's third-highest caseload after the US and Brazil, including more than 6,000 deaths.

The government has also said that it only counts deaths for which the primary cause is COVID-19 while elsewhere almost all the deaths of people positive for coronavirus are taken into account.

Critics have questioned the sincerity of the official figures. Moscow has accounted for nearly half of the nation's infections and coronavirus deaths.

Lockdown restrictions eased just a day after Russia announced a partial reopening of borders.

On Monday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that travelling abroad for work, medical or studying purposes will be allowed, as well as for taking care of relatives.

He also said Russia will let in foreigners seeking medical treatment or taking care of family members.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters there is “no set date” yet for resuming international flights, which were halted in late March.