A deluded approach or a dose of common sense? Belarus refuses to go into lockdown.

Packed crowds watching a Belarusian football match, despite other countries cancelling their games.

Almost every European country is in some form of ‘lockdown’ due to Coronavirus — the UK has told citizens to only go out if ‘absolutely necessary’, Spain is giving fines of well over €100 to anyone who breaks quarantine rules, and Germany has shut some of its borders. Despite the frenzied attempts of nearly the whole of Europe to keep people from going out, one country is singing a very different kind of tune.

Whilst on Saturday there won’t be any Premier League football matches in the UK, in Belarus it’s a very different story. Eight fixtures will take place in the Belarusian Premier League this weekend, in front of stadiums crammed with fans. That’s right — contrary to advice from scientists and doctors all over the world, Belarus is carrying on with its footy. And that’s not the only thing.

Belarus has had a strikingly relaxed response to COVID-19 in all areas of life. Just days ago Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko took part in an ice hockey match, stating afterwards that sport ‘is the best anti-virus remedy’. The President’s previous remarks have included telling people that drinking 50ml of vodka a day and routinely going to the sauna would ward off the virus. The Government of Belarus have also confirmed that on the 9th of May the country would still celebrate ‘victory day’ — where elderly veterans from the Second World War parade the streets, despite the increased susceptibility of seniors to the Coronavirus. However, on the 26th March a mandatory 14 days of self-isolation was introduced for any new arrivals into the nation.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus

The laid-back attitude of Belarus to the COVID-19 pandemic has shocked the world, and outraged many to say the least. The continuation of football matches was described as ‘frankly not comprehendible’ by Fifpro, the world football player’s union, however has excited fans around the world searching for the thrill of live matches, giving the Belarusian Premier League its highest worldwide popularity ever.

There have been some desicions taken independently by residents of the country, such as private schools initiating programs of remote learning, however many seem content with the government’s views, as seen with the huge crows attending sports matches and going to the open markets.

The measures — or lack of such — that Belarus are taking seem deluded, ignorant and stupid to say the least, especially when seen in relation to the advice of other European countries or governments. The lockdown in most European nations makes them look like police states compared to Belarus, when in actual fact the Belarusian government is amoungst the most totalitarian on the continent. However is the attitude to Coronavirus from Belarus all that stupid, or a dose of common sense? Most likely the former, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Whilst drinking vodka and going to saunas seems like a dream cure to the virus, it’s very unlikely that it’ll work, given the advice from the WHO and other health boards across the globe.

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