© Sputnik / Maksim Blinov
Starting next Monday the strict quarantine in Moscow will be lifted as the biggest hotspot of the Covid-19 epidemic in Russia eases restrictions. But many rules are here to stay, at least until the end of the year.

Moscow accounts for roughly half of all Covid-19 cases in Russia, but now the outbreak seems to be subsiding, so more quarantine measures will be lifted starting next week. Mayor Sergey Sobyanin on Wednesday outlined his plan to steer the city further out of the lockdown.

Arguably the most welcome change will be the relaxation of the stay-at-home order, under which Muscovites lived for almost two months. People will be allowed to go out for a walk at their leisure starting next Monday.

However they will have to take turns, with residents of different houses assigned different days to reduce crowding. Sobyanin joked that without the schedule everyone would likely rush out at once and the streets would look like May Day demonstrations.

Most Moscow retailers will be allowed to open for business. During the lockdown only grocery stores were serving customers while most non-food goods could only be ordered online, which was inconvenient to many buyers, people and smaller shops. Services like laundries or repair shops are getting the green light to open their doors too.

The mayor said the city has managed to avoid the worst-case scenario with the outbreak and now sits on a large reserve of hospital beds and medical supplies it had prepared for a possible flood of Covid-19 patients. With some 10,000 beds unused in the city the excess can be safely assigned to treating non-emergency patients.

The supplies and Moscow medics with experience in treating the coronavirus will be able to help out the parts of Russia that are currently struggling in dealing with the virus on their own. The plan was discussed by Sobyanin with President Vladimir Putin during a teleconference call.

Two weeks ago Moscow allowed major industrial businesses to resume work. According to Sobyanin, the increase in contacts between people that the move required didn't cause a more rapid spread of the virus, contrary to concerns he had. This led his office to decide that further relaxation of lockdown measures was now possible.

As the Russian authorities cautiously celebrate going through the first wave of Covid-19 with a relatively small loss in lives, the threat of a new outbreak is not going away. Russia's chief epidemiologist last week ordered a set of guidelines on how to mitigate it. The guidelines, which were published on Tuesday, will remain in force till at least the end of the year.

Among other things they ordered two-week quarantine for people who were in contact with identified coronavirus patients or travel from places with an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

Russians should also expect mandatory widespread use of face masks, screenings for the coronavirus and other preventive measures.