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21 Jan, 2021 09:03

As Sputnik V rolls out & Covid-19 numbers fall, Moscow bucks European trend by lifting restrictions & moving away from lockdown

As Sputnik V rolls out & Covid-19 numbers fall, Moscow bucks European trend by lifting restrictions & moving away from lockdown

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has announced the relaxation of some of the city’s Covid-19 restrictions, following a decline in recorded infection numbers since the turn of the year and a fall in cases requiring hospitalization.

Sobyanin explained that the welcome trend in Europe’s largest capital means he can partially lift what is already a much softer lockdown than those imposed in comparable conurbations across the continent. The lifting of measures will see the city’s colleges and children’s leisure facilities return to regular working hours, but university students will continue with remote learning. In the struggling arts and leisure sectors, theaters, cinemas, and concert halls have also been thrown a lifeline, with capacity increased from 25 percent to 50 percent.

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The announcement, which comes into force on Friday, also includes the reopening of museums and libraries, and allows mass entertainment and cultural events to resume, but at 50 percent capacity limit. There is, however, no easing up on nightlife, with clubs and bars still being forced to shut at 11pm. This, however, is a far more liberal arrangement than exists in places like London, Paris and Berlin, where the trade has been totally shutdown.

The decision to ease restrictions comes after a significant decrease in the number of confirmed daily infections. On December 31, Moscow registered new 6,566 cases of Covid-19. Three weeks later, the city has seen this drop to between 2,000 and 4,000 per day. This has also led to a considerable reduction in hospitalizations, with the city now having more than 9,000 empty and available beds.

The mayor also noted how 220,000 Muscovites have already been vaccinated against the virus.

“These are the conditions which we have to live with, in the coming weeks,” Sobyanin wrote on his personal blog. “I sincerely hope that the improvement of the epidemiological situation will continue, and then we will be able to reduce the other still-remaining restrictions.”

Large-scale immunization began in the Russian capital in the first week of December, initially for at-risk groups, such as teachers, nurses, and those with pre-existing conditions. Week-by-week, the eligibility list has expanded to include more sections of society. On January 13, President Vladimir Putin announced the imminent start of nationwide mass vaccination.

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