A sharp increase in new corona infections has meant that more restrictions now apply again in the Russian capital.

Moscow's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, ordered days off at the weekend until next Sunday.

Workers over 65 years of age and the chronically ill who are not vaccinated should stay at home; at least thirty percent of employees should work from home;

this does not apply to particularly important companies such as those in the armaments sector.

Friedrich Schmidt

Political correspondent for Russia and the CIS in Moscow.

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    In addition, restaurants, bars and clubs are not allowed to receive guests between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

    Zoos, so-called food courts and playrooms for children in shopping centers are closing, as are common objects in parks, for example.

    Schoolchildren are already on summer vacation anyway.

    Compared to Western restrictions, Moscow’s measures are not harsh;

    for Russia, however, they mark the maximum since the end of a two-month strict curfew (“self-isolation”) in June 2020.

    The government then shied away from taking unpopular steps, also in order to avoid further losses for the economy, which now has to continue to pay the wages of Moscow workers.

    As many new infections as there have been since the end of 2020

    Terms like “incidence” and “aerosols”, which have found their way into everyday vocabulary elsewhere, are almost never heard in Russia. Little is tested, even in privileged Moscow. Mayor Sobyanin now relied on the fact that the number of new infections in Moscow, at 6,701 on Saturday, was the highest it has been since the end of 2020. From the end of January to the end of May, the number of new infections in the capital did not exceed 3,000, but had increased since the beginning of June; now it is growing “exponentially”, as Sobjanin's staff announced.

    Why remains unclear. There is hardly any talk about threatening mutations of the virus in Russia and now it is only unofficially said that the sharp increase can possibly be explained by the spread of the delta variant of the virus. The chief physician of a hospital specializing in corona patients in Kommunarka on the outskirts of Moscow, Denis Prozenko, recently said in an interview, "You have the feeling that the virus is changing". Mayor Sobjanin said that a particularly large number of patients were seriously ill, not only from risk groups, but also middle-aged people and even young people. He has to react.

    Currently, 78 percent of around 14,000 corona beds in Moscow's hospitals are officially occupied; As in the previous year, thousands of additional beds are now to be made available for the care of corona patients. Sobyanin again campaigned for vaccinations. But in May the mayor had to acknowledge that despite the free offer and bait like shopping vouchers for pensioners willing to vaccinate, the proportion of people vaccinated in Moscow was smaller than in any other European city - at the end of May only one and a half of more than twelve million Muscovites were vaccinated - and that in the vaccination centers "nobody" is.

    Russia's vaccination campaign has been running since December; in addition to the internationally marketed Sputnik V, the first dose of which is now offered as Sputnik Light, two other Russian vaccines called Epivakorona and Kovivak are used, albeit less often. The mistrust of the vaccines remains high. So far, only less than 13 percent of the population have received at least one dose. The discipline of wearing masks and gloves in local traffic and in shops is lax, controls are sporadic, but should now be tightened.

    The official, comparatively low death rate also contributes to the widespread trivialization of Covid-19; the official number, around 126,000 corona deaths, should probably be multiplied by a factor of six with a view to excess mortality. In addition, the power apparatus regularly claims that Russia got through the pandemic better than Western countries.

    Alleged violations of corona restrictions are used as a lever to keep opposition members under house arrest, but major events in the interests of those in power are commonplace. In Saint Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin's International Economic Forum at the beginning of the month and now seven games of the European Football Championship testify to this. In the city's Gazprom arena, thousands of fans followed the 3-0 draw of the Russian selection against Belgium on Saturday evening, while queues in front of Petersburg hospitals were reported. No new data come from the city on admissions to hospitals and free beds.

    The news portal Fontanka quoted a nurse from a St. Petersburg clinic who had just infected herself with Corona. She had not had herself vaccinated, said the woman (under a changed name, such statements are prohibited): Her doubts had grown because many people who had been vaccinated with Corona had come to the hospital. Such cases are also widespread, official figures are not found. The nurse looks worriedly at the football festival: "We will probably completely suffocate with this EM."