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Moscow reimposes work-from-home order as Covid cases surge – Financial Times

Russia’s capital has ordered employees to stay at dwelling this week and reopened a number of makeshift coronavirus hospitals after instances of Covid-19 surged to the very best ranges this 12 months.

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The work-from-home laws introduced by Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin mirror the rising unease amongst Russian officers about rising infections, and a shift in rhetoric from triumphalist proclamations that the nation had weathered the worst of the pandemic.

“In the course of the previous week the scenario with the unfold of the coronavirus infections has sharply deteriorated,” Sobyanin stated in a press release asserting the brand new guidelines, which apply to all non-essential employees within the metropolis. “It’s unimaginable to not react to such a scenario . . . To cease the expansion of infections and to avoid wasting individuals’s lives.”

That contrasts with remarks by president Vladimir Putin earlier this month that life was “steadily returning to regular . . . half of the world is staying at dwelling. Our scenario is healthier than in many different international locations.”

Russia reported 14,723 new Covid-19 instances on Sunday, the very best daily tally since February, of which 7,704 have been in Moscow, town’s highest each day complete since December.

Consultants have pointed to Russia’s determination to raise lockdown measures final summer time and its slow pace of vaccinations because the possible causes behind the surge.

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Fearing the financial catastrophe of a chronic shutdown, Putin lifted federal lockdown measures in July and the nation weathered a huge second wave of infections final autumn and winter, throughout which its areas have been worst-hit.

On the similar time, regardless of being the primary nation to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, the gradual tempo of production and distribution, and a excessive stage of vaccine hesitancy and administrative mistrust has annoyed vaccination efforts. Three extra Russian jabs have been rolled out since Sputnik V, however nonetheless solely 12 per cent of Russia’s 144m inhabitants have had at the very least one shot, effectively under the European common.

Putin himself waited till March to get vaccinated, in non-public and with out naming the jab used, however has since urged all residents to have the injection.

Sobyanin on Sunday stated that Moscow residents who signed up for vaccination over the subsequent 4 weeks can be entered right into a lottery to win one in every of 20 free vehicles, in probably the most lavish instance of giveaways aimed toward successful over reluctant individuals. Polls present a majority of Russians don’t need to get a Covid-19 inoculation.

“To be able to keep away from new restrictions and obtain sustainable enchancment within the scenario, it’s essential to considerably speed up vaccination,” Sobyanin stated. “Till we offer a very large stage of vaccination, town can be in a relentless fever.”

Sobyanin, who has been one in every of Russia’s most outspoken officers on the risks of Covid-19 and incessantly pre-empted the federal authorities by imposing restrictions on Moscow, has repeatedly stated in latest weeks that he doesn’t plan to impose one other lockdown on town.

Moscow’s new measures, which can be in place till at the very least Sunday, additionally embrace a renewed 11pm curfew on eating places, bars and nightclubs, and the closure of purchasing centre meals courts, and kids’s play areas and sports activities services within the capital’s parks.

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