Moscow extends restrictions as it grapples with coronavirus

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A man wearing face mask walks on the street in Moscow, Russia, April 9, 2020. Russia's COVID-19 cases grew by a new daily record of 1,459 in the last 24 hours to reach 10,131 on Thursday, covering most regions of the country, official data showed. The death toll rose to 76 from the previous day's 63, and 698 people have recovered, including 118 in the last 24 hours, Russia's coronavirus response center said in a statement. (Xinhua/Evgeny Sinitsyn)
A man wearing face mask walks on the street in Moscow, Russia, April 9, 2020. Russia's COVID-19 cases grew by a new daily record of 1,459 in the last 24 hours to reach 10,131 on Thursday, covering most regions of the country, official data showed. The death toll rose to 76 from the previous day's 63, and 698 people have recovered, including 118 in the last 24 hours, Russia's coronavirus response center said in a statement. (Xinhua/Evgeny Sinitsyn)

Faced with new coronavirus infection highs, the Russian capital Moscow is again imposing a series of restrictions.

Events are to be limited to a maximum of 1,000 people, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his blog on Friday. “Theatres and cinemas will remain open.”

However, the fan zone for the European Football Championship will be closed, the mayor explained.

Playgrounds in are to remain closed for another 10 days, he said. “After that we will look at the situation again.”

In Europe’s largest city with around 12 million inhabitants, 9,000 new infections were reported within one day on Friday, according to the authorities. The previous daily high had been reached at the end of December with about 8,200 new cases.

According to the authorities, the delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first discovered in India, is spreading in Russia. Almost 90 per cent of infections in Moscow are of the delta variant

According to Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, the number of new patients in hospitals rose by 30 per cent within a week.

Health authorities also said that in-patient treatment for non-urgent reasons would only be available to vaccinated people. Urgent treatment at hospital would still be available to all patients, authorities stressed, adding that cancer patients and people who cannot be vaccinated for certain health reasons would be exempt.

Those who want to visit bars, restaurants and discos in Moscow at night from 11 pm to 6 am reportedly need proof of vaccination.

The mayor also announced an experiment in the hospitality business. In concrete terms, the idea is to designate “coronavirus-free restaurants.” In such restaurants, all employees would be vaccinated against the virus. The guests there would either have proof of vaccination or could prove that they had antibodies after having overcome the disease.

According to Sobyanin, migrant workers in Moscow should also receive the Russian vaccine “Sputnik Light,” which only requires one injection.

So far, only Russian citizens receive a vaccination free of charge. Because many labour migrants from Central Asia, for example, work in Russia, the group of people should be expanded.

As in the rest of Russia, many people in Moscow are still sceptical about a Covid-19 vaccination with Sputnik. Half a year after the start of mass vaccinations, only 15 per cent of people have been vaccinated in moscow.

To counter this, Moscow and other Russian regions recently introduced a mandatory vaccination rate for certain businesses.

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