Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Moscow Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions

Voice of America
27 Jan 2021, 23:05 GMT+10

Authorities in Moscow have lifted some coronavirus restrictions, including the overnight closure of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, citing the improving health situation.

Starting on Wednesday, businesses no longer are required to have at least 30 percent of employees working remotely, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his blog, saying the "situation with the spread of the coronavirus infection continues to improve" in the city.

"In these conditions it is our duty to create conditions for the fastest possible economic recovery," Sobyanin said.

A ban on mass rallies and the requirement for people to wear masks in shops and on public transport remain in place.

He said measures requiring distance learning for university students would be reviewed on February 6.

Russia, which has the world's fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases, has opted against reimposing a strict lockdown as a wave of the epidemic swept across Europe in the autumn.

Sobyanin said that over the past week, the city of more than 12 million people was registering an average of 2,000-3,000 new infections a day -- a steep decline from the some 7,000 infections reported at the peak of the autumn wave.

He added that half of the beds in coronavirus hospitals were now free for the first time since June.

On January 27, Russian health authorities reported 17,741 new coronavirus cases, including 1,837 in Moscow, taking the total tally to nearly 3,775,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The official nationwide death toll stood at 71,076, but the figure is believed to be much higher because of underreporting by authorities.

Russia launched an inoculation campaign earlier this month, making its locally developed Sputnik V vaccine available to all citizens.

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