The mayor says the spread of coronavirus infection “has deteriorated dramatically” in the Russian capital.
The mayor of Moscow has announced a “non-working” week in the Russian capital, where non-essential workers have been asked to stay home, as coronavirus cases reach a maximum of six months.
Sergei Sobyanin’s decision on Saturday marked a change of tone for Russian officials, where President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly insisted that the country has handled the pandemic better than most.
“Over the past week, the spread of coronavirus infection has deteriorated dramatically,” Sobyanin said on his website, as the city recorded 6,701 infections a day, the highest figure since December. past. He added that “thousands” of hospital beds have been reused for coronavirus patients.
“We can’t help but react to this situation,” he said. “To stop the growth of infections and save people’s lives, today I signed a decree that provides for non-working days between June 15 and 19.”
The order affects all employees in Moscow, a city of 12 million, except essential workers. Non-essential workers are not required to work from home during the period, but will retain their wages.
Along with weekends and holidays on June 14, it means most workers in Moscow will not return to their offices until June 20.
Sobyanin also announced the closure of dining areas and playgrounds, while restaurants, bars and clubs will be banned from serving guests between 11pm and 6am.
The mayor also asked employers to relocate at least 30 percent of unvaccinated employees to work from home after closing for a week.
Moscow Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said Saturday that 78 percent of the city’s 14,000 hospital beds for virus patients were currently occupied.
“In Moscow hospitals working with coronavirus patients there are currently 498 people with ventilators, which is almost 30% more than a week ago,” Rakova said.
He added that over the past two months there had been a “significant” increase in the number of young patients between the ages of 18 and 35.
Earlier this week, Sobyanin said Moscow would open several field hospitals to accommodate the influx of patients.
Cases have been on the rise across the country in recent weeks, as Russia struggles to inoculate its citizens despite domestic vaccines being widely available to the public.
So far, about 12% of people in the country have been vaccinated, compared to 43% in the European Union and 51% in the United States, according to Our World in Data.
Bernard Smith, of Al Jazeera, a Moscow informant, said the low inoculation rate may stem from widespread skepticism about the vaccine among Russians.
“Between 60 and 70 per cent of the people here say they are unwilling to get a vaccine and that seems to stem from a general distrust of what the government is trying to do,” Smith said.
“And this despite the fact that the Russian vaccine against Sputnik is internationally recognized and has been very effective,” he said, adding that the sting has proven to be almost 92% effective.