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With Covid-19 cases growing rapidly in Crimea, regional head warns that popular peninsula may close down entirely for tourists

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Since it was reabsorbed into Russia in 2014, Crimea has become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Now, with Covid-19 infections rising, the local chief has warned that the entire peninsula may shut up shop.

Speaking during a meeting of the Crimean Covid-19 headquarters on Wednesday, Sergey Aksenov threatened to close the peninsula to tourists.

“We are not going to do that now. We haven’t made any decisions yet and have no plans to do so,” Aksenov explained. “But if the situation passes some catastrophic mark, then we’ll have to. It will be hard, of course, but nevertheless.”

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According to the regional chief, the peninsula hit a new weekly maximum of Covid-19 cases, with 54 people dying from the virus.

When it comes to the decision-makers, the Covid-19 task force is about half in favor of tightening restrictions, with the other half wanting to keep everything open as usual, Aksenov noted.

“The situation is on the verge,” he said.

As things stand, Crimea has certain restrictions on businesses, such as forcing them to close at 11pm. However, according to Aksenov, many are breaking the rules and face severe punishment for undermining the work of doctors and other medical staff.

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“I suggest that the most insolent be punished publicly,” he continued. “We accuse [these business owners] of destroying the health-care system. I can’t say it any other way.”

According to Natalia Penkovskaya, the head of health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor in Crimea and Sevastopol, the peninsula has seen a significant increase in Covid-19 cases with acute respiratory viral infections, noting that the Delta strain has also hit the region, causing more complications.

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