Thursday, December 2, 2021

Moscow tightens restrictions: the number of infections and deaths on the rise


The government’s task force on coronavirus has reported 36,339 new confirmed infections and 1,036 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll in Russia to 227,389 – by far the highest in Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday reacted to the rise in infections and deaths by ordering Russians not to work for the period from October 30 to next week, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Thursday imposed a number of restrictions in the capital. …

He said that all restaurants, cafes and non-food stores, gyms, cinemas and other entertainment venues in the Russian capital will be closed from October 28 to November 7, as well as schools and kindergartens. Access to museums, theaters and other places will be limited to holders of digital codes confirming vaccination or previous illness, and this practice will remain in effect after November 7.

“The situation in Moscow is developing according to the worst-case scenario,” Sobyanin wrote on his blog, adding that the number of infections in the capital is approaching historic highs.

Daily infections in Russia have been on the rise for several weeks, and deaths from coronavirus exceeded 1,000 for the first time over the weekend, amid low vaccination rates, weak public attitudes towards precautions, and government reluctance to tighten restrictions. Only about 45 million Russians – about a third of nearly 146 million people – are fully vaccinated.

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After hours, which includes a two-day public holiday, should help limit proliferation by keeping people away from offices and busy public transport. The government also called on local authorities to restrict access to restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues during this period.

Putin said that in some regions where the situation is most dangerous, he said that the non-working period could begin as early as Saturday and extend beyond November 7.

So far, the Kremlin has ruled out nationwide isolation like the one at the start of the pandemic that hit the economy and undermined Putin’s popularity, instead giving regional authorities the power to decide on local restrictions.

Many of the 85 regions of Russia have already restricted attendance at large public events and introduced digital codes confirming vaccination or previous illness for access to restaurants, theaters and other places. Some have made vaccinations mandatory for certain government officials and people over the age of 60.

But Moscow has so far escaped restrictions: restaurants and cinemas were crowded, crowds filled nightclubs and karaoke bars, and commuters widely ignored bans on the use of masks on public transport, despite intensive care units filling up quickly.


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