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No Lockdown in Belarus, President Advises Saunas and Vodka

As 21WIRE reported earlier today, not every European country is taking the mass-panic, economic self-immolation and authoritarian police approach to dealing with the supposed pandemic of the coronavirus. Sweden has opted for a more sane approach to the crisis by instituting reasonable safety measures and providing extra protection and advised self-isolation for the most vulnerable demographic which of course are over 70’s and immune-compromised with long-term chronic conditions.

Continuing towards the east, One country is employing an even more liberal approach to the COVID19 crisis than Sweden. Despite being at the doorstep of a Europe in social and economic lockdown, life in Belarus goes on as normal.


President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko faces off with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an ice hockey benefit match (Image Source: KXAN)

While the rest of Europe shuts down their economies, major sporting leagues, and prohibit their citizens from leaving their homes or sitting outside in parks – the former Soviet Republic remains very much open for business, having kept its economy, shops, stadiums – and borders, all open.

Only time will tell whether this novel Belarusian approach will be heralded as a successful.

Robyn Dixon from the Washington Post reports…

In Belarus, authoritarian leader President Alexander Lukashenko has famously scoffed at the coronavirus as a “frenzy and psychosis.” His views also come with advice for citizens who don’t share his coronavirus scorn: Hit the sauna, down some vodka and get back to work.

As surrounding countries have closed borders, shut down passenger transportation, banned mass events and effectively moved indoors, Belarus remains open, and Lukashenko stays defiant.

The country of 9.5 million — between Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Lithuania and Latvia — has reported 94 cases of coronavirus.

Still, Belarus’s soccer league plays on, the only one in Europe still on the field. Theaters are promoting premieres. Markets, shops, bars, restaurants and churches remain open, in the absence of any government order to the contrary.

It is a theme he has pounded relentlessly in recent weeks, convinced that the unprecedented measures against the pandemic are designed to benefit some and harm others. On March 19, he slammed the border closures by Belarus’s five neighbors as useless and “absolute and utter stupidity.”

But strongman Lukashenko seems to be in a league of his own with his disregard for the global strategies to contain the pandemic.

On Friday, he cited Trump’s warnings that the cure should not be worse than the disease as justification for his own course of keeping factories and businesses open and refusing to close the borders.

“Life is going on. You cannot put it on hold,” he said, announcing that Belarus would not cancel May 9 Victory Day celebrations, a day when elderly war veterans from the Great Patriotic War (World War II) get together to celebrate.

On March 16, he said that instead of worrying about the virus, it was time to work in the fields, sowing crops.

“People are working in tractors. No one is talking about the virus,” Lukashenko said. “There, the tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone,” he added, sparking a social media meme around small red pills shaped like tractors.

Lukashenko had jokes about vodka, too, which was often touted in Soviet times as a “cure” for just about everything. He recommended people not only drink it but wash their hands in it. (In fact, it is not strong enough to kill covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends disinfectants that are at least 70 percent alcohol; most vodkas contain 40 percent alcohol.)

“I don’t drink, but recently I’ve been saying that people should not only wash their hands with vodka, but also poison the virus with it. You should drink the equivalent of 40-50 milliliters of rectified spirit daily,” he said on March 16. “But not at work.”

Continue this story at the Washington Post

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