“Everything is right, but it hurts”: entrepreneurs about strict self-isolation in Tatarstan

Entrepreneurs are complaining about losses, but they recognize that general self-isolation is a necessary and timely measure

“Everything is right, but it hurts”: entrepreneurs about strict self-isolation in Tatarstan
Photo: Photo: Ilya Repin

Tatarstan entrepreneurs are preparing for a long downtime after declaring general self-isolation in the republic from March 30. The measures are quite reasonable and, perhaps, with an eye on Italy, they are the only correct solution — the business community recognizes. However, the tools of state support adopted today — tax deferrals, reduction of insurance premiums for salaries above the minimum wage, credit holidays, according to entrepreneurs interviewed by Realnoe Vremya, rather plunge into limbo than really help.

“Stay home, please!”

Tatarstan has taken steps to combat coronavirus following the scenario of Moscow and at the direction of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin — strict and general regime of self-isolation has been introduced in the republic since 30 March. In the next week and up to new government decisions, Tatarstan residents will leave their homes only to the nearest supermarket or pharmacy, to take out garbage and walk the dog, and not further than 100 metres from their house. Serious tightening of anti-epidemic measures was announced on March 30 by the head of the operational staff for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Leyla Fazleeva.

An exception will be made only for those who need emergency medical care, for employees of hospitals, pharmacies, non-stop production and institutions that are separately prescribed by the decree of the head of the Russian government. But they will also need to get a certificate from the employer on a special form that will confirm the need to leave the house.

In general, for the next week, the cities of the republic are waiting for “complete paralysis”: parks and all public spaces have joined the already closed shopping centres, as well as hairdressers and restaurants. Public transport will continue to run, transporting those who have to go to work around the city, but at much longer intervals and there will be far fewer cars on the route. From April 1, bus services between the regions of the republic will be completely cancelled. Trains will run only in the morning and evening. Taxi services can continue to operate, but their customers will be subject to the same quarantine rules — without a certificate, movement around the city is prohibited, including in private cars.

Serious tightening of anti-epidemic measures was announced on March 30 by the head of the operational staff for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Leyla Fazleeva. Photo: tatarstan.ru

There are no detailed regulations on the functioning of the “general quarantine” at the moment so far — the Tatarstan government has not yet decided on the systems and formats of control over the population of the republic, has not approved the form of certificates, which will allow people to navigate through the city, the exact end date of the quarantine is unknown. According to Leyla Fazleeva, in the next days, all the “details” and more detailed regulations of the regime will be announced to the population.

For now, we only know that teams of employees of the ministry of internal affairs, National Guard of Russia and Rospotrebnadzor will control the compliance with the quarantine measures. To date, fines for non-compliance with the quarantine, according to the 6.3 Administrative Code, can range from 100 to 500 rubles, but, as stressed by the head of Rospotrebnadzor of the Republic of Tatarstan, Marina Patyashina, in the coming days, by the decision of the Russian government, they will increase multiples.

  • Iskander Yusupov

    Iskander Yusupov Deputy General Director of Unistroy development company

    From the point of view of security, the measures taken make sense, of course: the experience of other countries has shown that quarantine is one of the most effective measures. From a business point of view, it is certainly a challenge — already last week, we've shifted our work online, we are already arranging real estate deals without personal presence of the client. But this will still affect businesses because not everyone is ready to go online — and first of all, I'm talking about buyers. So the self-isolation mode will certainly affect traffic.

    First of all, this is, of course, a blow to small businesses, but it is also very difficult for medium and large businesses. I think it is too early to judge whether the support measures taken by the authorities are effective or not — everyone is still in limbo. Therefore, conclusions about the relevance of these measures can be made later. Now we can only wait and hold on — both customers and businesses. We all need to understand that the time is not easy, and our future will depend on our common coordinated actions and awareness.

  • Delyus Sirazetdinov

    Delyus Sirazetdinov Director General of Kamastroyinvest PLC

    I'm not really an alarmist, but I would take even tougher measures. What the government of the republic is doing is relevant and justified. If we adhere to all these measures, which Leyla Fazleeva mentioned, then we will go through this period together, and in the end everything will be fine.

    Entrepreneurs, of course, are already affected by these measures: non-payment of loans, and so on. But in any case, everything will pass and be ok. There have never been any unrecoverable situations in history. Support measures? Everything is relative. In order to live as they did, of course, they are not enough. But any penny of state support is necessary for a businessman, and at the moment — even more so.

    We are all waiting for clarification. We have just received news from Sberbank and VTB that they have given an explanation about receiving interest-free loans for issuing salaries. A few minutes ago, I was giving out orders, setting tasks. Everything is in this mode — you need to follow the instructions given by the state, you need to strictly comply with them. Then, I think, we will go through this negative and terrible period with dignity, and all will be alive and healthy — this is the most important thing.

  • Bulat Ganiev

    Bulat Ganiev Managing Partner of Tekhnokratia Group

    Everything is correct, but it hurts. Self-isolation is now the surest way, and the example of South Korea shows that such a step can stop the pandemic, prevent an explosive growth of cases, as in Italy, where the situation has got out of control, Spain and America. Everything that is done is correct, but it does not make it easier, businesses are suffering. We are also suffering, but to a slightly lesser extent, because we can do most of the operations remotely. But sales are definitely starting to halt where personal contacts are needed, some things that were discussed personally with the client in Moscow. In the essence, the point is that it is correct, you can not act differently, but it does not become easier.

    At the start (of the epidemic) in Moscow, the crisis was just beginning, and we were faced with the fact that banks began to refuse loans. Now, of course, the situation may have started to change, but we have not actively delved into this topic ourselves. It is clear why — everyone is freaking out, financial markets are jumping, no one wants to lend to SMEs, because this is an additional risk for the bank. All, in general, it is reasonable, but again this does not make it easier. Now banks are operating normally, but it has become more difficult to get loans from the point of view of issuing them. When the price of oil began to fall, it is clear that it is an economic crisis, but its depth is still unclear, and at this moment, increasing the risk of SME loans for the bank is also not a very correct scenario.

    In general, relative to other countries, there could be more measures to support businesses in Russia because if you look at the experience of the United States and Germany, GDP reaches 5%, and the volume of support itself is much greater than in Russia. On the other hand, small and medium-sized businesses in Russia are not such a valuable layer because the main money is generated more by the state corporation, the oil sector. Therefore, it is probably not very rational to throw all the money to save small and medium-sized businesses. In the end, I think that everything that happens is quite rational, but this, once again, does not make it easier.

  • Pavel Kostirkin

    Pavel Kostirkin Director General of the developer of Primavera village

    I think that these decisions may be a little excessive, but we must admit that in such cases it is not terrible to overdo it. Of course, all this will have a very bad impact on businesses, especially small businesses, and I think that the authorities underestimate this a little — so far, all the support measures that have been announced are more in words. And people are losing quite real money, as they say, here and now. I would think more about it and talk more about it. There is nothing wrong with being too careful.

    What other measures are needed to support businesses? If a person is sent on forced leave, the entrepreneur must pay their salary. It turns out that it does not create added value, and this money should be compensated directly from the state, republic and municipal budgets. We have a lot of reserve funds, and it seems to me that this is the only thing that can really help. Tax deferrals? It's still paying later. Losses are already occurring, and this is just a transfer of taxes to “later”.

  • Alexander Gurov

    Alexander Gurov Director of Onlinecontact ETP

    The main task here is to prevent greater harm to the health of the population and to get out of this situation with minimal losses. Business interests and economic interests are of course very important, but they take a back seat. If a person has a choice: live well or just live, everything is obvious. It is difficult to make a decision because it is obvious and clear: you need to adhere to a strategy that will allow you to minimize losses.

    This will definitely affect businesses, of course. But now, I believe, we need to think not so much about businesses but about minimizing the loss of people's health. If the leaders and the government have an understanding of how to behave, if there are any recommendations from professionals in this area, look at the experience of other countries — the same China, which claims that it has already defeated the pandemic, that this topic is already 90% closed to them. We need to adopt all this and implement it clearly, unambiguously and rigidly in our country. If quarantine and self-isolation are such measures, then we should strictly insist on the implementation of such a strategy.

    As far as I know, in China, shopping centres were not just closed but the entrances were welded up so that there was no temptation to go there. In our country, people perceive quarantine in a peculiar way — they perceive it not as non-working days, but as an additional vacation. It is not necessary to go far for an example — people are going out in our yard and playing with children. Although quarantine is exactly isolation. I understand that business will suffer a lot from this, and the economy will sink a lot. But I think it's better to let your wallet suffer than your health.

  • Rafik Shaykhutdinov

    Rafik Shaykhutdinov Head of the Association of SMEs of the Republic of Tatarstan

    In the current situation (if you measure it from the point of view of the most important thing — the life and health of people), the regime of self-isolation is an absolute necessity. We don't even need to talk about the economic consequences that are coming, and so on. Naturally, they will, but it is important for all of us to understand that these consequences, when compared with life and death, go by the wayside.

    At the same time, I would like to note the following point. Over the past week, businesses have experienced a certain shock: restrictions, a sharp drop in demand, and so on. This has already been felt by the restaurant business, suppliers, food producers, and the service sector. And all of them have already begun to develop their own mechanisms of adaptation to the new conditions, as far as possible. Judging by our association, there are companies that have halted, but there are also those that have switched to remote operation, have organized online communication within their firms and continue to function. Businesses are now forced to adapt, think day and night, and try to use all their resources to keep them alive. I think that the decree on the transition to a stricter regime of self-isolation is now fully justified, and it will be adopted with greater understanding and with greater readiness than it would have been a week ago.

    If we talk about the announced support measures, in my opinion, they are insufficient. Undoubtedly, they reduce the pressure a little today, but they do not get rid of the difficulties and carry them to a later period.

By Lina Sarimova, Olga Golyzhbina
Tatarstan