The mayor of Moscow on Tuesday ordered the city’s first coronavirus restrictions since the summer, as Russia recorded 1,015 daily deaths from COVID, a new record.
President Vladimir Putin is expected to decide on Wednesday what government measures will be imposed on him to curb the spread of the virus across the country.
But already on Tuesday, the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, ordered the unvaccinated over 60s in the capital to work from home and extended compulsory vaccinations for service workers. These restrictions will come into effect next Monday and are expected to last until the end of February.
Sobianin also asked employers to move 30% of their staff to work from home.
“Every day the number of people hospitalized for the severe form of the disease is increasing,” Sobianin said in a statement.
The number of critically ill patients has “doubled” since the end of the summer, he added.
The measures were announced after Russia on Tuesday recorded a new 24-hour record of 1,015 coronavirus deaths, bringing the country’s official total to 225,325 – the highest in Europe.
Only 35% of Russians are vaccinated and authorities are struggling to counter anti-vaccine sentiment. Independent polls show that more than half of Russians do not plan to be shot, despite Putin’s pleas.
Sobyanin said authorities had hoped older Muscovites would get vaccinated after returning from the countryside at the end of the summer.
“Unfortunately, that did not happen,” his statement said.
The increase in the number of cases has occurred without any strict restrictions in place to limit the spread of Covid-19, although several regions have reintroduced QR codes for access to public places.
Russian officials have been accused of downplaying the severity of the pandemic.
Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova called for the establishment of a non-working week from October 30 to curb the spread of the virus.
She proposed that the hardest hit regions implement such a measure from this Saturday.
“The solutions we are proposing are very difficult,” Golikova told Prime Minister Mikhail Michoustine.
“But we ask you to support these proposals and appeal to the Head of State. “
Golikova is due to submit her proposal to Putin for approval at a meeting on Wednesday.
“No confidence” in vaccines
Russia has struggled to vaccinate its citizens despite the fact that national vaccines, including Sputnik, are widely available.
Piotr Tolstoy, vice-president of the lower house, said this weekend that authorities had “completely lost” an information campaign on the coronavirus.
“There is no confidence in people to go and get vaccinated, that’s a fact,” he said.
Putin’s spokesman on Tuesday urged the Russians to be “more responsible” and admitted that the government could have done more to explain the “lack of alternatives to vaccines”.
“There is a tradition of blaming everything on the state,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“But at the same time, we need a more responsible position from the citizens of our country. “
Western vaccines are not available in Russia, and Peskov insisted that bringing them into the country would not help slow vaccination rates.
“The vaccinophobia of some citizens is unrelated to the brand of the vaccines,” he said.
On Monday, St. Petersburg’s second-largest city announced it would tighten restrictions to fight the virus, introducing a health pass to regulate access to crowd events from November 1.