Moscow, Russia: Moscow, the capital of Europe’s worst Covid-hit nation, will shut nonessential services between October 28 and November 7 as deaths soar and vaccination rates stall in the country, the city’s mayor said on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the 11-day closure a day after President Vladimir Putin ordered a nationwide paid week off at the end of the month to curb fast spreading infections.
Russia reported 1,036 Covid-19 deaths in a single day on Thursday, but officials have warned the worst is yet to come — with only 35 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
Putin will have no in-person meetings during the nonworking period, the Kremlin said.
Authorities have previously gone to great lengths to protect the 69-year-old, who the Kremlin said is fully vaccinated.
In Russia’s capital and the epicenter of its outbreak, Sobyanin said all nonessential retail, sporting and entertainment venues must temporarily close. Shops selling food, medicine and other essentials will remain open.
Restaurants and cafés will be able to sell take-away food, the mayor said in a statement.
Mass events will be banned and schools will be closed with the days off coinciding with national school holidays. Theaters and museums can stay open, but entry will be allowed only with QR codes.
Cemetery workers overwhelmed
Also on Thursday, the education ministry recommended schools nationwide shutter for a week.
Moscow’s mayor said the measures were necessary because the “situation in Moscow is continuing to develop according to the worst-case scenario.”
When restrictions end on November 8, Moscow will also halt free public transport passes for unvaccinated passengers over 60 or with chronic disease.
Sobyanin said the move was aimed at “protecting the lives and health of the most vulnerable Muscovites.”
Officials this week said the virus is spreading faster than ever with Russia registering 36,339 new cases on Thursday.
Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said hospitalizations had risen three-fold within a month, linking it to the infectious Delta variant.
She said taking people off work was “one of the most effective epidemiological measures for large cities.”
Outside Moscow, Russia’s regions were also overwhelmed.
Authorities in the Vladimir region east of Moscow said there were “practically no beds left” in coronavirus ward intensive care units.
In the southwestern city of Voronezh, one of the worst-affected areas, authorities said cemetery employees were “working to the limit” amid a steep rise in deaths.
A Moscow official, meanwhile, said the capital’s cemeteries would continue working “as usual” despite the nonworking week.
EU still reviewing Sputnik
Putin on Wednesday linked Russia’s high death rates to what he called an “unfortunately” low vaccination rate and urged Russians to show “responsibility” and get the jab.
On a visit to the Kaliningrad exclave on Thursday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin urged locals to respond to the president’s call.
“You heard what the president said about this. It is very important,” Mishustin said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.Internet Explorer Channel Network