COVID-19: Moscow tightens restrictions as infections, deaths soar

COVID-19: Moscow tightens restrictions as infections, deaths soar

As Russia recorded the greatest daily numbers of new coronavirus infections and deaths since the epidemic began, authorities in Moscow announced plans on Thursday to close restaurants, theaters, and non-food businesses, as well as impose additional restrictions later this month.

In the last 24 hours, the government’s coronavirus task force recorded 36,339 new confirmed illnesses and 1,036 deaths. Russia’s death toll now stands at 227,389, far and by the highest in Europe.

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russians to remain off work from October 30 to November 7, in response to growing contagion and fatalities, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin followed up with a plethora of restrictions in the city.

From October 28 to November 7, all restaurants, cafés, and non-food businesses, as well as gyms, theaters, and other entertainment facilities in the Russian capital, will be closed, as will schools and kindergartens.

Holders of digital codes confirming vaccination or prior sickness will be denied access to museums, theaters, music halls, and other institutions, a practice that will continue beyond Nov. 7 on the Cabinet’s recommendation.

During the 11-day period, most state agencies and private enterprises will shut down, with the exception of those responsible for critical infrastructure and a few others, according to the mayor.

“The situation in Moscow is rapidly deteriorating,” Sobyanin said on his blog, adding that the number of illnesses in the capital is approaching all-time highs.

Daily infections in Russia have been rising for weeks, and coronavirus death figures surpassed 1,000 for the first time this weekend, owing to poor vaccination rates, lax public attitudes about measures, and the government’s unwillingness to impose regulations. Only around 45 million Russians, or about a third of the country’s population of over 146 million, are completely vaccinated.

The Russian president, who received the locally manufactured Sputnik V vaccine earlier this year, said he was perplexed by vaccination apprehension, even among his close friends, who promised to get the injection after he did but continued delaying it.

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