Russian Chefs in Naked Lockdown Protest After Pandemic Strips them of Income

Moscow: Russian restaurant owners stripped of their income by the coronavirus lockdown are campaigning for their businesses to be allowed to reopen by posting pictures of themselves naked on social media.

Hundreds of bar, restaurant and cafe employees have posted photographs of themselves naked with carefully positioned plates, cups, saucepans, bottles, bar stools and napkin holders.

Their demand is for authorities to allow them to start serving clients as the country gradually eases measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are naked because we are left with nothing," said Arthur Galaychyuk, owner of the Relab Family bar chain in the city of Kazan, whose 20 employees took part in the campaign.

Restaurants in Kazan will be allowed to open their summer terraces on June 11 after more than two months of lockdown.

"We don't want to stage a strip show or to fool around, we only want one thing - to work!" said Pavel, a chef from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, in a post with a group picture of his colleagues wearing only masks and holding kitchenware.

"We don't pose more of a risk then supermarkets, shopping malls, hair salons or public transport," the post said.

Authorities in Novosibirsk have not announced when local restaurants can open.

President Vladimir Putin ordered strict lockdown measures at the end of March shutting all businesses except food stores and pharmacies. The country's regions were allowed to adjust the measures depending on the situation on the ground.

Moscow is in the process of lifting the lockdown and many businesses, including shopping malls, book stores and beauty salons have reopened.

The Russian capital plans to allow cafes and restaurants to open their outside terraces later in June before reopening fully from June 23. Indoor restaurants and bars remain closed in other parts of Russia.