MOSCOW (Reuters) – Moscow’s mayor has effectively declared a public holiday for all of next week to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Sergei Sobyanin announced the decision on Saturday, saying it would not affect organisations that maintain the Russian capital’s infrastructure, the military, and other strategically important enterprises.
Monday is anyway a public holiday, and the mayor told people to also stay off work for the rest of the week.
“To stop the rising rate of sickness and to save lives, today I signed a decree providing for non-working days from 15 to 19 June 2021 with pay for employees,” Sobyanin said on his official blog.
Sobyanin also ordered all bars, restaurants and venues to close by 11 p.m. in the city until June 20.
On Saturday, Russia reported 13,510 new COVID-19 cases in the preceding 24 hours, the highest daily tally since early February. Of those, 6,701 were reported in Moscow, the highest tally in the city so far this year.
Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said that there were 70% more confirmed coronavirus cases in the city than the previous week, and that the number of people in hospital had risen 30%, the Interfax news agency reported.
She said there were about 14,000 hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients in the capital, and 78% of these spaces were already full.
Mayor Sobyanin urged elderly residents to remain at home, and for residents of the city to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Though vaccines have been readily available in the capital since January, when Russia launched its national inoculation programme, take-up has been slow.
Sobyanin last month decried the low take-up, describing it as “remarkable” that hospitals in the capital were filling up with COVID-19 patients while vaccines were widely available.
(Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Pravin Char, William Maclean)