Putting up a good front is an official corporate sport.
During the war, soldiers become heroes. During a pandemic, heroes are doctors and nurses. In our land, everyone becomes a hero during a pandemic.
Doctors and nurses are out of the question. They not only treat people but also dare to urge Belarusians to stay home contrary to the state policy. Besides, teachers who switch to online learning, hold lessons in the conference mode, although it is much harder than the usual "Sidorov, you answer!" And also parents who do not allow their children to go to schools and kindergartens, although it is much easier to send their children to study and do their business than to change the schedule and increase the working day. And also the owners of children's camps, who cancel vacation programs and suffer losses. And the owner of the cafe, who refused visitors and prepare free lunches for employees of the infectious diseases hospital. And the owner of a flower shop, who delivers geraniums for her customers to stay at home. Volunteers who deliver prescriptions to the homes of chronically ill people. The list can go into infinity.
And it's all happening against officials' will, who say everything's fine. It's optimistic and under full state control ("Virus, stop!"). Even those who watch TV and do not disturb the sleeping mind with doubts about official figures cannot believe in their idiotic optimism. But putting up a good front is an official corporate sport. The Minister of Health is answering questions live about the coronavirus and advises to go dating for health reason. A few Facebook milk-and-water girls are touched with minister's open-mindedness. In general, they say, he is an honest man and reports the real figures to the ruler. Meanwhile, he orders not to hustle and bustle under a client. Whatever the minister reports to the leader, it is even worse to advise Belarusians to go on a date during the pandemic than vodka and tractor. Because pieces of advice about vodka and tractor are given in delirium, while the Minister of Health has not yet been noticed in mental inferiority. Moral inferiority, on the contrary, is a prerequisite for appointment to a high public office.
On 25 March, the government adopted a resolution on measures to prevent the entry and spread of coronavirus. Now all foreigners coming to Belarus from the countries with detected coronavirus are obliged to stay in self-isolation for 14 days. Until this period expires they will not be allowed to cross the border in the opposite direction.
At the border, each visitor has to fill in a questionnaire and provide the address of stay. Well, that's great. However, the Council of Ministers does not say anything who will control this self-isolation. Because they won't. If there is no epidemic in the country, no fines for leaving the house without a good reason, no policemen patrolling the streets, dispersing and fining unconscious citizens - this is not measures, this is a palliative.
The main thing is that we do not have a border or border crossings with Russia. Next week it initiates the "coronavirus holiday". Russians go on paid vacation for a week. The cunning mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin is closing cafes and restaurants, fitness clubs and cinemas, shopping malls and clubs for this time. In short, entertainment in Moscow is completely stopped. Sobyanin realized that Russians, encouraged by paid vacations, can rush to the capital and made it completely useless for visitors. Where should Moscow residents go, those who don't want to stay at home and believe that Trump invented the coronavirus? But there is such a place nearby, it is called Belarus. There are silence and boredom around, life is booming: movies and casinos, aqua parks and nightclubs, all sorts of pubs. There's no border either. One can arrive by car or take a train; there are no border guards with questionnaires. That's great.
This whole cheerful gaggle's gonna come here. They know the way. Just remember cars with Russian numbers which park on lawns in early May and January. In a couple of days, they will be here again. However, Minsk will be better with Sobyanin! And especially after that.
But there are options, and not even one. To close the border with Russia and to keep that front: we have no coronavirus and everything is under control, but if now crowds of Russians come to Belarus, they can bring us both virus and plague. The second option is to close all entertainment facilities, as in Europe, for the next week at least. If someone comes here, still driven by adventures, let them have no place to go. They will not arrive. It makes no use without entertainment. It is better and cheaper.
However, these are just dreams. Still, officials will keep lying about the fact that everything is under control, forcing into non-disclosure agreements, refusing patients to pass tests for coronavirus, writing off deaths for pneumonia knowing that no one can deny it. The virus cannot be either seen or touched, it does not glow in the dark just like radiation after Chernobyl. Liars in fairy tales have their noses growing.
We're not in a fairy tale, albeit a scary one. We face the new reality where we can survive together without lying.
Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org