‘Not everyone is at the New Year’s table now’: Putin laments the virus’s grip on Russia.

With parks, ice-rinks, bars and different widespread venues for New Yr’s Eve in Moscow ordered to close down earlier than midnight on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia saved one vacation custom alive by delivering a televised handle to the nation.

Lamenting {that a} “harmful new virus has turned the other way up our regular life, work and examine,” Mr. Putin struck an unusually somber tone in his annual message, first broadcast to residents in Russia’s easternmost areas on the Pacific, which greeted the beginning of the brand new yr 9 hours forward of Moscow.

Russians normally have fun New Yr’s Eve, a time of joyous festivities that mix gift-giving, feasting and heavy consuming, with boisterous gatherings of household and mates. However this yr, Mr. Putin reminded his nation, “not everyone seems to be on the New Yr’s desk now. There are nonetheless many individuals within the hospital.”

Extra upbeat was Aleksei Navalny, the opposition chief who survived a nerve agent assault in August throughout a go to to Siberia, an assault that he believes was ordered by Mr. Putin. He posted a picture of himself and his family, all now in Germany, on Instagram and famous that, regardless of all of the unhealthy information in 2020, “I used to be fortunate and this yr was not unhealthy for me.” He added: “The prospects for 2021 are additionally attention-grabbing.”

To assist comprise the virus, Moscow’s metropolis authorities ordered Purple Sq. and different gathering locations closed hours earlier than midnight, however the Russian capital and different cities throughout the huge nation nonetheless deliberate extravagant firework shows. Beginning in Vladivostok, a port metropolis on the Pacific, exploding rockets lit up the skies throughout Russia as the brand new yr rolled west towards Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost area on the Baltic Sea.

The streets of central Moscow, normally jammed and buzzing on New Yr’s Eve, had been eerily quiet Thursday. Eating places and bars had been ordered to shut at 11 p.m. Mr. Putin — in an try at a present to the folks after an extended yr — had referred to as on Russia’s regional governors to make Thursday a break day work, which they shortly did. In consequence, many Muscovites left town early, moderately than ready for Jan 1., usually the beginning of an extended nationwide vacation.

“Sadly, the epidemic has not but been fully stopped. The battle towards it doesn’t cease for a minute,” Mr. Putin mentioned in his tv handle. “As we speak it is extremely essential to consider in ourselves, to not retreat within the face of difficulties, to protect our unity, that is the idea of our widespread success sooner or later.”

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