MOSCOW – The mayor of Moscow on Saturday ordered a week off for some workplaces and imposed restrictions on many businesses to tackle coronavirus infections which have more than doubled in the past week.
The National Coronavirus Task Force reported 6,701 new confirmed cases in Moscow, up from 2,936 on June 6. Nationally, the daily tally has increased by almost half over the past week, to 13,510.
After several weeks of containment as the pandemic spread in the spring of 2020, the Russian capital relaxed restrictions and did not reimpose any during subsequent increases in cases. But due to the recent sharp rise, “it is impossible not to react to such a situation”, declared the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin.
He ordered businesses that don’t normally work weekends to stay closed next week while continuing to pay employees. Food courts and children’s play areas in shopping malls are also to close for a week from Sunday, and restaurants and bars are to limit their take-out service from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Earlier in the week, city officials said enforcement of mask and glove wearing requirements on public transport, shops and other public places would be stepped up and violators could face fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($ 70).
Although Russia was the first country to deploy a coronavirus vaccine, its use has been relatively low; many Russians are reluctant to get vaccinated.
President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that 18 million Russians had received the vaccine, or about 12% of the population.
For the entire pandemic period, the task force reported nearly 5.2 million infections in the country of about 146 million people and 126,000 deaths. However, a report by Russian state statistical agency Rosstat on Friday revealed more than 144,000 virus-related deaths last year alone.
The statistics agency, unlike the task force, is counting deaths in which coronavirus infection was present or suspected but is not the leading cause of death.
The agency’s report found that around 340,000 more people died in 2020 than in 2019; he did not give details of the causes of the higher year-over-year death toll.
The higher death toll and lower birth count combined to result in an overall population decline of 702,000, about double the decline in 2019, Rosstat said.