Moscow launches digital travel permits under lockdown

By: AFP      Published: 01:20 PM, 13 Apr, 2020
Moscow launches digital travel permits under lockdown

Moscow authorities are launching a digital permit system to control people's movements after warning the coronavirus outbreak has put a huge strain on hospitals.

A website to apply for the passes was working Monday for people travelling by car or public transport.

The permit system, which will be operational from Wednesday, may be expanded to monitor people going out  even within their local neighbourhood, if needed, authorities said. 

City authorities had planned to assign Muscovites scannable bar codes to check whether people adhere to strict isolation rules, but that sparked huge controversy.

People would have had to apply for a QR code from officials online each time they wanted to leave their homes. 

The plan was eventually dropped in favour of the digital passes.

Muscovites are only allowed to leave their homes to walk their dogs, take out trash and visit their nearest shop or pharmacy. 

Russia has declared 15,770 cases of the coronavirus and 130 fatalities, though the actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

The densely populated capital with more than 12 million residents has emerged as the epicentre of the contagion with 10,158 cases and 72 deaths.

Moscow has been under lockdown since March 30, but is struggling to cope with the influx of new patients and officials said that clinics were approaching their limits.