Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and the most populous city is Minsk. Minsk is a European Party city these days.

Life goes on without lockdowns and restrictions. The olf Soviet-type health system still works and works effectively. Once a COVID-19 is identified, the person will be admitted to a hospital. Police will go out within minutes and order everyone the identified had contact with to be admitted in a hospital for 2 weeks.

Isolation of the sick is also what every authority in the world now preaches, but for many countries, it’s too late. Belarus’ approach seems to be working and is timely. The country remains productive and only 94 cases are recorded in this country of 9.5 million. No one died so far.

In the meantime, a popular time out is the City Pub Crawl Minsk.  This is a tour that turned the usual pub crawl into a real quest game, where participants get points for completed drinking tasks. And in the finals, the winner who gets the crow is the king of the party.

Restaurants, markets, and enjoy shopping malls are packed with people in Belarus. Churches are open, and the only advice by President Alexander Lukashenko is to drink lots of vodkas and sweat everything out at saunas.

As surrounding countries have closed borders, shut down passenger transportation, banned mass events and effectively moved indoors.

Belarus’s soccer league plays on, the only one in Europe still on the field. Theaters are promoting premieres.  The air force is conducting field exercises. A Christian Orthodox fair and exhibition, Easter Joy, will be held April 1-12 in the capital, Minsk, with events for families and children.

Women wearing traditional Belarusian clothing hold cakes at a soccer match Sunday in Barysaw, Belarus.
Women wearing traditional Belarusian clothing hold cakes at a soccer match Sunday in Barysaw, Belarus. 

On March 19 Belarus called the border closures by Belarus’s five neighbors as useless and “absolute and utter stupidity.”

It may sound familiar under authoritative leaders. In the U.S. President Trump, who initially said the outbreak in the United States was “very much under control.” Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro called it a media fantasy and “little flu,” claiming that Brazilians could jump into sewers and not get sick.

Last week he cited Trump’s warnings that the cure should not be worse than the disease as justification for his own course of keeping factories and businesses open and refusing to close the borders.

“People are working in tractors. No one is talking about the virus,” Lukashenko said. “There, the tractor will heal everyone.

He also recommended that people wash hands more often, have breakfast on time, have lunch and dinner.

It was only Thursday that Belarus imposed a requirement that arriving foreigners go into 14 days of self-isolation. Belarus has been carrying out targeted coronavirus tests — 24,000 so far (compared with almost 250,000 for Russia’s 145 million people) and contact tracing. Lukashenko also has ordered increased production of ventilators.

But he maintains that lockdowns and closures do not work.

Lukashenko was more worried about an impending economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus than the virus itself. The World Health Organization has endorsed the Belarus authorities’ approach of testing, contact tracing and isolating Covid-19 cases and their contacts.