On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin ordered all Russians to stop working due to rising COVID-19 deaths and infections. He also strongly encouraged those who were hesitant to get vaccinated.
In the last 24 hours, 1,028 people died from the government coronavirus taskforce. This is the highest number of deaths since the outbreak. This brought Russia’s death total to 226,353, the highest number in Europe.
Putin stated that he supported the Cabinet’s proposal for a nonworking week beginning Oct. 30 and continuing through the following week. Four of the seven days are currently non-working including a two day state holiday. He suggested that the nonworking period could be extended beyond Nov. 7 to include regions with the most serious situations.
Putin spoke in video conference with top officials, “Our task today was to protect life and the health of our citizens as well as minimize the effects of the deadly infection.” To achieve this, it is necessary to slow down the rate of contagion, and mobilize additional resources of the health system, which is currently under high strain.
Russia’s daily coronavirus death rates have been rising for several weeks. They reached 1,000 on Saturday for the first-time in a decade. This was due to sluggish vaccination rates and lax public attitudes towards taking precautions. The government’s unwillingness to tighten restrictions. About 45 million Russians, or a third of the country’s nearly 146million people are fully vaccinated.
The nonworking period is supposed to help reduce spread of the disease by keeping people out or off crowded public transport. However, Moscow and other cities don’t restrict access to bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms, and cafes.
Many Russians booked flights to Black Sea resorts as soon as the Cabinet announced the measure Tuesday.
Tatyana Golikova (Deputy Prime Minister) is the leader of the task force. She stressed that the nonworking week should not mean limiting access restaurants, theaters, and other entertainment venues. Regional authorities will also be expected to impose restrictions.
She urged Russians not to travel to other areas during this period, and stressed the importance of relatives of the infected staying home.
It was not immediately clear which private businesses would have to cease working in accordance with Putin’s decree. This includes state workers and employees of state owned companies. During an earlier similar act during the pandemic many state-owned and private companies operating in “vital” sectors of the economy were allowed to continue to operate.
To help absorb the economic shock, the Cabinet has created measures for compensation to businesses. These include one-time payments equivalent in monthly minimum pay for workers and low-interest credit.
Putin urged Russians to get shots. He said, “It’s a matter for your life and security as well as the health and happiness of your loved ones.”
He said that there are only two options to overcome this period: to either get sick or get vaccinated. It’s better to get the vaccination. Don’t wait to get the vaccine and suffer the terrible consequences. Take responsibility and protect your health and the lives of your family members.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who received the domestically-developed Sputnik V vaccine earlier in the year, stated that he is puzzled by the vaccine hesitancy. Even his closest friends who said they would get it after he does, then continued to delay it.
Putin stated, “I don’t know what’s happening.” We have a reliable, efficient vaccine. This vaccine reduces the risk of serious complications, death, and illness.
He approved a Cabinet proposal that gave two days paid leave to anyone who received the shot in order to encourage vaccination.
Although Russia was the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine in August 2020 and has plenty of supplies, there have been reservations among Russian citizens about getting the shots. This is due to contradicting signals from authorities.
Sputnik V, three other domestic vaccines were extolled by the state-controlled media, but they often criticised Western-made shots. This message was seen as a way to raise doubts about vaccines generally.
Golikova stressed that the majority of recent deaths were not due to vaccinations. She stated that 87% of the hospital beds for COVID-19 patients have been filled. In some provinces, this number can reach 95%.
Some regional authorities had to stop providing medical services due to rising infections. Health care facilities that were focused on coronavirus patients had to be shut down. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, acknowledged that the situation was “very sad” and noted that vaccination rates in these regions were particularly low.
Putin warned leaders in the region not to exaggerate statistics. He said that a “high level of new infections does not necessarily mean poor work” from authorities. He stated that it was a sign of the efficiency of regional teams and not vice versa.
The Kremlin has ruled out a nationwide freeze like that which occurred early in the pandemic. This would have been a huge blow to the economy, and shattered Putin’s popularity. Instead, it empowers regional authorities to set local restrictions.
Many of Russia’s 85 regions have already restricted access to large public events. They also introduced digital codes that prove past illness or vaccination for entry to theaters, restaurants and other venues. Certain public servants, as well as people over 60 years of age, have been required to get vaccinations.
Moscow has seen life as usual. There are many people in Moscow: there are movie theaters and restaurants crowded with people, karaoke bars and nightclubs full of people. Commuters ignore mask mandates on public transport, even though ICUs are filled.
The lack of vaccine knowledge and the lax approach to safety was a surprise to medical workers. “I can’t help but think of the sleepless nights we have when we see a lot of patients who didn’t bother using banal protective measures,” Dr. Natavan Ibragimova, Moscow’s Hospital No. 52, where the ICU was full.
Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow Mayor, stated that anyone over 60 years old will need to remain home if they are not vaccinated. He advised businesses that at least one-third of their employees should be able to work remotely for three months beginning Oct. 25, 2018.
Dr. Catherine Smallwood is the COVID-19 incident Manager at the World Health Organization’s European branch. She stated that vaccination levels below 30% in Russia, eastern European countries, like Bulgaria, and Romania, were “particularly concerning.”
She stated that “it’s clear that in countries with lower vaccine uptake, we’re seeing serious pandemic effects right now in terms of deaths as well as people ending up in hospitals.”
A government task force has recorded more than 8,000,000 total infections. According to COVID-19, Russia is ranked fifth in pandemic deaths worldwide, after the United States, Brazil and India.
Rosstat, the state statistics agency, reports a higher death toll, at 418,000, as of August.