Support The Moscow Times!

Russians Flock to Travel Ahead of Nationwide Virus Restrictions

Moskva News Agency

Russians are making travel plans en masse ahead of a nationwide non-working week introduced to stem the spread of coronavirus.

President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the week-long paid holiday between Oct. 30-Nov. 7 in a bid to slow a Covid-19 wave that has seen record infections and deaths. This period, essentially a soft lockdown, will see all non-essential businesses and services close and entertainment events called off, but does not ban Russians from traveling.

Bookings for tour packages to places like Turkey and Egypt have soared since the non-working period was announced, representatives from the TezTour and Anez Tour agencies told The Moscow Times. 

“The non-working days, of course, spurred a certain number of tourists to book tours to popular destinations for Russians in Egypt, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates,” Dmitry Gorin, vice president of the Russian Association of Tour Operators, told The Moscow Times. 

At the same time, the tourism industry always sees higher demand during the fall school break, Dorin said. 

The Black Sea resort city of Sochi expects to see an influx of about 100,000 tourists during the non-working week, the city’s mayor Alexei Kopaygorodsky has said. The city has introduced vaccine passports for entry into restaurants and bars in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday cautioned Russians against traveling during the non-working period. 

"Epidemiologists have raised concerns that many people are planning to go on trips and travel," Peskov said, adding the Kremlin hoped the non-working days would "help improve the epidemiological situation."

He added that closing borders between regions was "undesirable" and constituted a "last resort."

Last week, Russian aviation authorities asked domestic airlines not to increase the number of flights to meet the surge in demand during the non-working days, according to the Kommersant business daily.  

However, the restrictions did not affect international flights.

“There are only two countries that are open for additional charter flights: Turkey and the Dominican Republic. From Nov. 9, charter flights will fly to Egypt and the Arab Emirates,” Gorin told The Moscow Times. 

The latest wave of the pandemic within Russia has been fueled by widespread vaccine hesitancy, with only 32% of Russia's population fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid-19 data from the regions.

AFP contributed reporting.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more