Officials announced Thursday that Moscow’s restaurants, cinemas, and retail outlets will be closed for 11 consecutive days beginning Oct. 28. This is because Russia has seen the highest number of coronavirus deaths and infections since the pandemic.

In the last 24 hours, 36,339 new infections were reported by the government coronavirus taskforce. There were 1,036 deaths. This made Russia’s death count to 227,389, the highest in Europe.

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, expressed concern about Russians’ inability to get vaccinated. He urged them to do so and said: “Why wait for the disease and its grave consequences?”

On Wednesday, he responded to rising deaths and infections by ordering Russians not to work between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7. The country is already on a four-day holiday. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin then followed up with new restrictions in the capital that began even earlier.

From Oct. 28 through Nov. 7, gyms, cinemas, and other entertainment venues in Moscow, along with most stores, will be closed. Kindergartens and schools will also be closed. During this time, cafes and restaurants will be closed for delivery or takeout orders. Pharmacies and food stores can remain open.

Only those who have digital codes on smartphones that can prove past illness or vaccination will be allowed to access museums, theatres, concert halls, and other venues. This restriction will apply even after Nov. 7.

Sobyanin said that most state agencies and private businesses will cease work during the 11-day period, with the exception of those who operate key infrastructures and a few other entities.

He stated earlier this week that anyone over 60 who is not vaccinated will need to remain home, except for short walks and open-air exercise. Businesses were also advised to keep at least one-third of their employees remote for three months beginning Oct. 25,

Sobyanin posted on his blog that “the situation in Moscow is evolving according to the worse-case scenario”, adding that the number and severity of infections in Moscow are near all-time highs.

Russia’s daily infected have been increasing for several weeks. Last weekend’s death rates reached 1,000 for the first-ever time. This was due to low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes towards taking precautions and the unwillingness of the government to tighten restrictions. About 45 million Russians, or a third of the country’s nearly 146million people, are fully vaccinated.

Russia was the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine. It launched Sputnik V in Aug 2020. However, citizens are reluctant to receive it.

Putin was vaccinated earlier this year with Sputnik V. He said that he was confused by the hesitancy even among his closest friends who assured him they would get it after he did. But then they kept delaying it.

Putin stated Wednesday that he couldn’t comprehend what was happening. We have a reliable, efficient vaccine. This vaccine reduces the risk of serious complications, death, and illness.

Some critics blame conflicting signals from the authorities. Sputnik V, three other domestic vaccines were praised by the state, but Western-made shots were often criticised by the media, which many considered to be a sign of doubts about vaccines generally.

This nonworking period will help to limit spread of the disease by keeping people out offices and off public transport, where mask mandates are often ignored. The government also asked local authorities to tighten their restrictions during this period.

Putin stated that the nonworking period in some areas where the situation is more dire could begin as early as Saturday, and extend past Nov. 7.

The government had initially imposed a nationwide lockdown during the pandemic but has since resisted them out of fear that they would damage the economy and undermine Putin’s popularity. Instead, authorities have allowed regional authorities to determine local restrictions.

Many of Russia’s 85 regions have already restricted access to large public events. They also introduced digital codes that allow for easy access to theaters, restaurants, and other venues. Certain public servants, as well as people over 60 years of age, have been required to get vaccinations.

Moscow has escaped such restrictions up to now and people have been flocking to its restaurants and nightclubs. Because the capital’s health system is more resourceful than other regions, authorities have not had to take any restrictive measures.

Sobyanin stated that tougher measures are now likely.

He said, “Experience has shown that nonworking days are most effective in reducing contagion and death.”