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Moscow Returns Remote Work, Other Measures Amid Resurgent Pandemic Wave

Sofia Sandurskaya / Moskva News Agency

Moscow’s mayor announced Tuesday plans to reintroduce remote work, mandatory vaccinations for service workers and other measures to slow the surging fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic starting next week.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered employers to send at least 30% of their staff to work from home for the next four months between Oct. 25 and Feb. 25, 2022. Vaccinated employees and those who had recovered from Covid recently, in addition to medical and critical workers, will be exempt from the work-from-home requirements.

Muscovites aged 60 and older, as well as chronically ill residents — with the exception of those vaccinated or infected in the past six months — will be under strict stay-home orders, Sobyanin added.

The Russian capital’s service industries will also need to vaccinate at least 80% of their staff with the first dose by Dec. 1 and the second dose by Jan. 1, 2022, he said.

“I’m well aware of how tedious and uncomfortable the current restrictions are, but there’s simply no other way to protect you from serious illness,” Sobyanin said on his website.

“Please get vaccinated. That’s how you will protect your health and be able to maintain your usual lifestyle,” he said.

Sobyanin decried growing daily hospitalizations and critical patients in the capital, projecting a repeat of last year’s cycle with the fourth wave peaking in December 2021.

He noted that 5 million mostly middle-aged Muscovites received at least the first dose of the vaccine, while only 1.14 million out of the 3 million residents aged 60 and over had done so.

“As a result, 60% of patients currently in Covid hospitals are Muscovites over the age of 60. Almost 80% of the patients on ventilators are elderly people. Among those who died from Covid, their share reached 86%,” Sobyanin said. And, as a rule, they did not get vaccinated.

His latest measures follow the majority of Russia’s 85 regions announcing vaccine requirements for public-facing workers and QR code requirements to enter public events in recent weeks.

Moscow is the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic within Russia, accounting for more than 20% of the country’s 8 million total cases.

Russia has seen record infections and deaths in recent days, with 33,740 infections and a new high of 1,015 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday.

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