Moscow is not introducing tough measures, despite the autumn record for the incidence of COVID-19. And they are unlikely to introduce

The two-week school holidays did not help Moscow – the incidence of covid has increased to the level of early May, but the city authorities do not want to return the quarantine regime. Moscow hopes to get by with the measures announced this week – transferring high school students to distance learning and transferring 30% of employees to remote mode. After a week, the authorities will analyze the result; for the time being, they do not want to strike at the economy of trade and services.

Moscow does not impose strict restrictions – although the number of infections continues to grow

According  to sources , “Medusa”, after the extension of school holidays from 5 to 18 October, the Moscow authorities had to decide whether the need to combat kovidah additional restrictions and how they will be tough. It was assumed that if the incidence declines or even stabilizes, then serious restrictions will be avoided. If the number of cases grows, then the question of closing shopping centers, large stores and cinemas, and limiting the opening hours of restaurants, cafes and bars will again arise.

Judging by the official statistics , the morbidity rate has increased significantly during the holidays. If on October 5 in Moscow 3537 new cases were registered, then on October 16 there were already 5049. This is the maximum value for the period from May 12, when 5392 new cases were detected. The next day, Saturday 17 October, the headquarters for the fight against coronavirus announced 4,648 cases and admitted that the number of new cases of COVID-19 this week is 25% more than the previous one.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin responded to the increase in morbidity with additional measures, but they cannot be compared with the regime that operated in the capital in early May. Even the transfer of schoolchildren to distance learning, the preparation of which Interfax wrote about , was only half implemented. A new decree published on October 14 says that only students in grades 6-11 will be transferred to distance learning by November 1, and students in grades 1-5 will return to schools from October 19. There are 540 thousand of them in Moscow, and there are also half a million high school students. In addition, teachers over 65 years old or those with chronic diseases will teach remotely, and students of pedagogical universities sent to practice classes will help them to conduct lessons.


By the next decree of October 15, the mayor introduced a special regime of access to nightclubs, bars and other establishments, including those working at night. From Monday, October 19, it will be possible to enter them only after registering a phone number – visitors will have to scan a QR code or send an SMS to the short number 7377 (in this case, they will need to register even when entering during the daytime). This is necessary to notify visitors about contact with the patient if someone is later identified with covid, the mayor explained in his blog. As  explained First Deputy Head of the Moscow Mayor’s Office Alexei Nemeryuk, entertainment establishments will be fined up to 500 thousand rubles for refusing to use the QR code system at the entrance. Club visitors will not be fined for refusing to use the system.

In addition, the Department of Transport, referring to the recommendation of the city’s chief sanitary doctor, ordered not to allow passengers without masks and gloves into public transport. And  from October 19, it will be possible to visit cultural institutions under the jurisdiction of the authorities (for example, theaters) only with electronic tickets.


The Moscow authorities do not want “draconian measures”, but the next week will show everything

A Meduza source close to the Moscow coronavirus operations headquarters explained that the authorities had previously discussed the idea of ​​quarantining the city in a spring fashion if the daily incidence reached 7,000 new cases per day. But they decided to abandon such a concept, since the mayor’s office does not want “draconian measures” that will “stifle” the economy, he says.

Now the authorities are planning to use other methods. For example, the idea of ​​expanding the scheme with access by QR codes is being discussed. According to Meduza’s source, if it works in nightclubs and bars, cafes and restaurants will be next. Another interlocutor of Meduza, close to the headquarters, confirmed that the introduction of the system of codes is an experiment, the impact of which on the incidence of the authorities is only planning to evaluate.

The authorities also continue to observe how Sobyanin’s decree of October 6 on the transfer of 30% of employees of Moscow companies to remote work affects the incidence of diseases – the mayor has already reported that about a million people have switched to remote work. A source close to Meduza’s headquarters stressed that the authorities will strictly monitor the implementation of this decree and punish employers who refuse to comply with it. But when asked by one of the employees of the mayor’s office about how the authorities plan to ensure that people really stay at home and do not go to work, Meduza received a laconic answer: “Nothing.”


Meduza’s sources point out that the situation should clear up within about a week – it is during this time that the result of the transition of some schoolchildren to distance learning will be visible.

The main indicator for the city authorities is now not the detection rate of covid cases, but the number of their hospitalizations, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in  an interview with TASS on October 16. This week it “reached a stable milestone of 1200”, and now it is strategically important to keep it at the level of up to 1500 hospitalizations per day. “Let’s hope that we will not step over this milestone of 1500 thanks to the events that we have adopted. <…> We have a chance to stabilize and not touch the economy, which is critically important for us. Because the second such blow to small business, catering, trade and so on will be very difficult to survive, ”the mayor explained.

One of Meduza’s interlocutors notes that, according to the observations of the authorities, over the past two weeks, the rate of spread of coronavirus in Moscow has slightly decreased. According to official statistics , the spread of the virus has indeed dropped slightly . But so far, the mayor’s office does not consider this a stable trend and are confident that the situation can change in two or three days.

Federal authorities are not considering “any serious quarantine” either

A source close to the government, Meduza, claims that the question of strict quarantine in Moscow or other regions now “cannot even be raised” – according to him, Russia is ready for a second wave in terms of bed availability for coronavirus patients and other indicators. Meduza’s interlocutor stresses that “no serious quarantine” is being discussed in the government.

An interlocutor in the leadership of one of the regions of the Northwestern Federal District notes that last week the meetings of the State Council working group on countering coronavirus, headed by Sergei Sobyanin, resumed. No fundamental issues were discussed there, but the regional governors consulted with federal officials – Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova and Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko. The governors did not receive specific instructions – for example, they were asked to decide on the transfer of schools to distance learning themselves. When asked when the regions will receive large quantities of the coronavirus vaccine, federal officials did not answer either, stressing that they themselves did not know. Also at the meeting, two more trends were noted: there are more elderly people among the sick,

The interlocutor of Meduza added that, according to the authorities, it is not worth it to rely on general information about the occupancy of 90% of coronavirus beds in the country (on October 15, Mikhail Murashko said that more than 160 thousand beds for patients with coronavirus out of 182 thousand ). According to Meduza’s source, additional beds can always be deployed in the regions – and the percentage of their occupancy will immediately drop sharply.

The official position of the federal authorities also speaks of a reluctance to introduce new restrictions. On October 14, at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that the situation with covid in Russia is “alarming”, but it is “manageable”. “The preparation activities carried out in the spring, given that two Russian vaccines have already appeared, allow us to be quite confident in carrying out all the activities now. In our opinion, the situation is manageable and does not require the introduction of restrictive measures for the economy,  she stressed .

Earlier, Meduza’s interlocutor, close to the presidential administration, explained this unwillingness to risk the economy in order to fight the disease with the following words: “Business is already on its side, it will not stand it.”


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