Personal protective equipment in Russia and Crimea is readily available. Though some PPE was in short supply for a couple weeks, Russians pulled together as a community to fill the needs.
Masks in Crimea
Wearing of masks has been interesting in Crimea. When I first arrived, hardly anyone was wearing masks, other than the people I saw in the airport. N95 and FFP2 masks were easy to buy online from Ozone (Russia’s version of Amazon), however.
As COVID-19 started to spread in Russia, it became illegal to sell medical masks anywhere except at State run pharmacies. This policy was to make sure medical professionals could get masks. Most noteworthy, , Russians came together as a community when it was recommended that the general public wear masks.
Views Towards the Community
Many local businesses began producing cotton face masks. Women sewed masks for friends and family. People gave free masks to those who could not afford them, especially to senior citizens. This personality trait is hereditary for Russians. They always look out for those in their community.
Russia did start to ramp up production of medical grade masks immediately. Within a week, masks became available at any pharmacy. Masks are now available online again, as well. I do not see a lot of people wearing medical grade masks, though. I do see a lot of surgical masks and cotton masks on general people.
Rules for Wearing Masks
What are the rules in Russia and Crimea about wearing masks?
- Taxi drivers and bus drivers must wear masks. They must also sanitize their vehicle ever 2 hours, and keep a log of these sanitations. Taxi drivers must sanitize after every fare, as well
- Shopkeepers must wear masks to work
- People 65 and older, and people with underlying health conditions, must wear masks in public
- People visiting a doctor’s office, medical center, or hospital must wear a mask
Overall, people are following the rules and wear masks. The do, however, often wear masks over their mouth but below their nose. Or on their chin. Many people do not wear masks at all.
We wear them when we are in public. I was able to order KN-95 masks from one of our partner translation agencies in China at a reasonable cost early on.
Hand Sanitizer and Gloves
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were hard to buy when I first arrived in Crimea. My wife had bought some wipes at the local supermarket before I arrived, but could not find hand sanitizer. We did find a couple mini containers of sanitizer at a gas station on the way home from the airport. It was one time, though.
Russia quickly ramped up production lines and hand sanitizer became available in a couple weeks. You can now buy sanitizer in most shops and pharmacies.
Latex surgical gloves have not been a problem. The can be ordered at any pharmacy, and many local shops are now selling them as well.
We also wear gloves when we are shopping, and sanitize our hands afterwards. We then wash our hands and wipe down the interior of the car when we get home.
One thing I have not seen in Russia or Crimea is price gouging for personal protective equipment. The government has set a limit on profit on such items. This policy was put in place when masks were originally short, and online retailers raised prices. Within days they were shut down and the new laws were in place limiting profit to 10% over cost. This same policy was applied to food and other essential items.
As such, the Russian government is looking out for their people. I have also not seen hoarding of these essential protective items. Again, it is the nature of Russians to buy what they need, and not leave their neighbors without.