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Coronavirus

Moscow orders closure of all non-essential services amid COVID-19 surge

Published: Updated:

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Thursday ordered the closure of all non-essential services in the Russian capital between October 28 and November 7 to curb the spread of COVID infections as virus deaths soared.

“During this period the work of all (these) organizations on the territory of the city of Moscow must stop,” Sobyanin said in a statement as Russia reported a record 1,036 deaths in a single day on Thursday.

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A day earlier, President Vladimir Putin announced a week-long nationwide paid holiday starting October 30 to curb infections.

Sobyanin said all non-essential retail and venues of sport and entertainment must close. Shops selling food, medicine and other essential products will remain open.

Restaurants and cafes will be able to sell take-away food, the statement read.

Mass events will be banned and schools will be closed, with the days off coinciding with national school holidays.

The mayor said the measures were necessary because the “situation in Moscow is continuing to develop according to the worst case scenario.”

Earlier this week Sobyanin had told unvaccinated over-60s in Moscow to work from home and extended mandatory vaccinations for service workers starting from next Monday.

Russia is Europe’s worst affected country by the pandemic, and is struggling to contain a deadly wave amid meagre vaccination rates.

Only 35 percent of the population are fully vaccinated, despite the homegrown Sputnik V vaccine being widely available and multiple pleas from the Kremlin.

Although it is being used in dozens of countries, Sputnik V is not approved by the EU or by the World Health Organization.

An aide to Russia’s health minister, Alexei Kuznetsov, told local media on Thursday that the date for an inspection by the EU’s drug regulator -- the European Medicines Agency -- is “still being discussed.”

“We are preparing a visit (by the EMA) this year,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency TASS.

Russia also registered 36,339 new virus cases on Thursday.

Putin on Wednesday said the severity of the outbreak was linked to the country’s vaccination rates that are “unfortunately” low.

Thursday’s fatalities brought the country’s official death toll from the disease to 227,389.

But figures published by statistics agency Rosstat in October paint a far darker picture, suggesting that more than 400,000 people have died in the country from the coronavirus.

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