They also tried lotteries to win new cars or apartments, and grocery giveaways. However, the ambitious goal of 30 million Russians being vaccinated by June has been halted by a third.

Many regional governments in the country have begun to require workers to be vaccinated. They also require shots for certain business, such as restaurants.

Russia is facing a surge in infections as many Western countries relax coronavirus restrictions, plan to return to normal after mass vaccinations and Russia is fighting the virus. Russia was among the first countries to approve a vaccine in December and the first to begin administering it.

Daily new cases have increased from approximately 9,000 in June to around 17,000 by June 18, and more than 20,000 on Thursdays and Fridays.

Officials blame Russia’s lax attitude towards taking the necessary precautions, and the increasing prevalence of infectious variants. Perhaps the most important factor is the absence of vaccines.

As of Friday, 21 million people had received at least one shot, which is about 14% of the 146 million population. Figures from earlier this week show that only 16.7 million people, or approximately 11%, have been fully immunized.

Mikhail Murashko, Health Minister, stated that only 0.5% of people who received both doses have contracted COVID-19.

Experts believe that these numbers are due to several factors: the public’s distrust of Russia’s rushed approval and rollout Sputnik V vaccine, a false narrative that Russia had contained its outbreak, criticisms on state TV about other vaccines being dangerous and a weak promotional campaign with incentives like consumer giveaways.

Due to the increase in vaccinations, 18 Russian regions, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, made it mandatory for all employees working in certain industries, including government offices, retail, education, health care and restaurants, to get vaccines this month.

Moscow authorities stated that companies must suspend employees who refuse to get vaccinated and threatened to stop operations temporarily for businesses that fail to meet their goal of at least 60% of staff getting a shot by August 15.

All Moscow cafes, bars, and restaurants will now only accept customers who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months. Officials in the city also restricted elective hospital care to people who have been fully vaccinated, or who can provide proof that they have antibodies to fight off the infection.