Ukraine gets serious about Corona Virus countermeasures

All of this and more at Ukraine Business News.

🔵Starting today, foreigners without residency permits are barred from entering Ukraine. Starting tonight, all international flights, trains, and buses to and from Ukraine are suspended for two weeks. As of tonight, all train service stops between Ukraine and Poland, Moldova, Russia and Slovakia. Airports will only be open for cargo flights. The measures are designed to block, or at least slow, the entry of coronavirus from the EU, officially named by the World Health Organization as a hub of the global pandemic.

🔵Almost half of Ukraine’s 230 border crossings are closed through Friday, April 3, Serhii Deineko, head of the State Border Guard Service told reporters on Saturday. The 107 that will remain open have largely been selected to keep Ukraine exports and imports moving.

🔵“Cargo checkpoints – air, railway, sea and automobile – will continue to operate,” President Zelenskiy said in video address Friday night. “Crews of ships, airplanes, trucks can enter Ukraine and are obliged to undergo medical verification with rapid tests.”

🔵This means Polish truck drivers can drive into Ukraine. Poland is Ukraine’s third largest trading partner, after China and Russia. In one sign of cargo disruptions, Ukrainian trucks traveling from Italy are stopped on Slovenia’s western border, reports Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister. Similarly, trucks traveling from Italy to Croatia or Hungary are not allowed to drive out of Slovenia.

🔵Maxim Nefyodov, head of the State Customs Service, clarified on Facebook: “All major [Ukrainian] checkpoints will operate, including major airports, ports, landing points. The restrictions will apply to certain local checkpoints, pedestrian crossings, low-load railway crossings.”

🔵In a next step, Prime Minister Shmygal asks Ukrainians to stop traveling within Ukraine as a measure to stop the spread of coronavirus. “I also ask you, very insistently…to stop travelling between the cities of Ukraine,” he said in a video address posted Saturday night on his Facebook page after an emergency meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

🔵This week’s air travel bans will brake Ukraine’s double digit air passenger growth. In the first two months of this year, the flow of air passengers using Ukrainian airports was up 15% y-o-y, to 3.2 million. The State Aviation Service reports that last year, air passenger growth was up 18.5% y-o-y, to 24.3 million.

🔵At checkpoints on the line of control with Russia-controlled Donbas, only Ukrainians registered as living in Kyiv-controlled Ukraine, will be allowed to cross. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Friday: “We now have preliminary information about 12 cases of coronavirus in Horlivka.” Horlivka is in the separatist section of Donetsk Region.

🔵After a 71-year-old woman returning from Poland died Friday in Radomyshl, Zhytomyr Oblast, authorities placed the entire city 110 km west of Kyiv under lockdown. In response to Ukraine’s first coronavirus fatality, authorities closed markets, stopped bus service, and started checking everyone driving in or out of the city of 15,000.

🔵With 40% of Ukraine’s migrant workers going to Poland, the suspension of flights and trains will cause problems for many, including involuntary overstays of the 90-visa free Schengen limit. If borders are not fully reopened, farms in Poland and Lithuania will lose Ukrainian migrant workers crucial for cultivation and harvests, reports the Kyiv Post in a survey story. The National Bank of Ukraine predicts that labor remittances will decrease slightly from the current level of $1 billion a month.

🔵Preparing for a possible Italy-size epidemic, Zelenskiy said that 2,000 infectious disease physicians and 5,000 nurses are ready to staff designated hospitals with a total of 12,000 beds. For a nation of 37 million people, he said the government is preparing this week 200,000 rapid tests and 10 million masks.

🔵Turning to employers, the President appealed: “I personally ask business executives – if possible, allow your employees to work at home, remotely. Especially those who have children and who cannot leave them because of quarantine at schools and kindergartens.”

🔵The coronavirus disruption of China’s role in global supply lines offers opportunities for Ukrainian companies to supply components and semi-finished products to EU manufacturers, argues Hennadiy Chizhikov, president of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The spread of coronavirus can cause large-scale changes in the distribution of production and the creation of new production chains,” Chizikov said Friday at a business forum in Lviv. He said some EU companies are studying transferring orders for components to suppliers in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey.