Moscow embarks on sweeping lockdown as COVID-19 deaths surge

The Russian capital brought in its strictest lockdown measures since June 2020

  
Image used for illustrative purpose People wearing face masks walk across Red Square amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia October 26, 2021.

Image used for illustrative purpose People wearing face masks walk across Red Square amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia October 26, 2021.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

The Russian capital brought in its strictest lockdown measures since June 2020 on Thursday as hospitals confront a rising wave of coronavirus cases that has sent one-day pandemic deaths to record highs.

The partial lockdown, in which only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets are allowed to remain open, while schools and state kindergartens are shut, comes ahead of a nationwide week-long workplace shutdown from Oct. 30.

Like Moscow, some regions decided to kick off their partial lockdowns on Thursday or earlier, ahead of the nationwide initiative.

Moscow's residents are allowed to leave their homes freely unlike the lockdown of summer 2020, but the new measures point to rising concern among officials over record numbers of deaths that the Kremlin has blamed on the slow vaccination rate.

Many Russians have decided that now is an ideal time to fly off for a foreign beach holiday instead of hunkering down at home.

There were mixed feelings about the lockdown on the streets of Moscow on Thursday. Some residents like Lyubov Machekhina said they thought it would obviously help slow infections.

Others like Mikhail, a Muscovite who did not give his surname, voiced doubts that there would be any real impact without a larger chunk of the population being vaccinated or having other immunity.

"In my opinion, it will change nothing. Perhaps, it will slow down (the spread of cases) a bit, but in fact, without herd immunity - it's nonsense. I don't believe it'll work."

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Lev Sergeev; editing by Andrew Osborn)


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