Shopping malls reopen in Ukraine capital

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The reopening of malls, complete with strict social distancing, is the latest in a series of lockdown-easing measures it is hoped will stimulate the economy

Shopping malls opened in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Saturday as the ex-Soviet country gradually eases lockdown restrictions.

The reopening of malls, complete with strict social distancing protocols, is the latest in a series of measures to relax the confinement orders as President Volodymyr Zelensky bids to stimulate the economy.

Ukraine re-opened outdoor cafés, beauty salons, dental clinics and parks earlier this month. The subway re-opened on Monday.

Mall customers are required to observe social distancing and wear masks and gloves to protect themselves and others against the virus.

"I'm happy to be back," Maryna, an 18-year-old in skinny jeans, told AFP at a shopping centre in eastern Kiev.

The mall's food court and cinema that she used to frequent with her friends are still closed, however.

A guard armed with a non-contact digital thermometer stands at the mall's entrance while a sign warns customers to wear a mask.

The anti-virus restrictions introduced in mid-March had made Maryna feel "trapped", said the youngster, declining to give her last name.

"We love this place, we used to come here on weekends to do some shopping, to spend time in the food court and go to the movies," added Maryna, who arrived at the mall with two friends.

The country on Saturday reported 23,204 coronavirus cases and 696 deaths, adding that more than 9,000 people had recovered.