Moscow to go into 11-day lockdown as Russia Covid deaths rise

Moscow is to go into an 11-day lockdown, as Russia battles daily records for coronavirus deaths and infections.

The closure of all non-essential services will begin from 28 October, the capital’s mayor announced.

The lockdown will run in parallel with a nationwide holiday week from 30 October which was announced by president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The president will refrain during this period from attending any events in person and will work remotely, the Kremlin announced.

For weeks, Russia has been breaking daily records for deaths and infections, records linked to the low vaccination rate.

Barely 32% of the population have been jabbed, and the authorities have been slow to react to the situation.

In the last few days, they have finally announced their first concrete measures, such as the setting up of health passes and the reinforcement of teleworking.

Moscow is by far the country’s main epidemic centre and its mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, on Thursday ordered the suspension of work in most companies for a period that coincides with school holidays.

According to Mr Sobyanin, these measures are all the more necessary as “the situation in Moscow continues to evolve according to the worst case scenario”.

Restaurants, beauty salons, clothing and furniture shops, sports halls and dance schools have eight days to get organised before the closure.

During these eleven days, Moscow’s theatres and museums will be able to continue to receive the public but with a capacity reduced by half and on condition that they have a health pass. Restaurants will be able to sell take-away food.

From 8 November, a health pass will be required for all events with more than 500 people.

A poll published on Wednesday said a majority of Russian business owners were against new restrictions, citing economic concerns.

Despite widely available vaccines, Russians remain distrustful of domestically made jabs and surveys showed a majority of those who have not yet received a vaccine were not planning to do so. To encourage vaccine uptake, Moscow authorities this week banned unvaccinated elderly people from leaving home until February, while most Russian regions have introduced some form of compulsory vaccination.

Putin this week stressed the importance of vaccination. “It’s strange that well-educated people, people with advanced degrees, don’t want to get vaccinated. We have a safe and effective vaccine,” he said. “I call upon you to go out and get vaccinated. It’s a question of your life and the lives of the people close to you.”