COVID-19 vaccines

Moscow city orders compulsory COVID-19 shots for 2 million workers

Moscow city orders compulsory COVID-19 shots for 2 million workers

MOSCOW VACCINATIONS. A man receives a dose of the Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease at a mobile vaccination center in a dacha community near the village of Poyarkovo in Moscow Region, Russia on May 31, 2021.

Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

Moscow city authorities order all workers with public-facing roles to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Moscow city authorities ordered all workers with public-facing roles in the Russian capital to be vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the most forceful steps taken anywhere in the world to compel employees to get shots.

A decree listed a range of jobs – from hairdressers, retailers and taxi drivers to bank tellers, teachers and performers – for which vaccination will now be obligatory. Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said the list covers more than 2 million workers in the city.

Companies were given a month to ensure at least 60% of staff had received first doses, or face fines or temporary closure.

Russia has been offering vaccines to the public since last year, but has so far seen low uptake and is now seeing a major new surge of infections, with the capital hardest hit.

“More than 12,000 people are in hospitals with varying degrees of severity. In terms of morbidity, we are already at the level of last year’s peak,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Wednesday, June 16, on his personal blog.

Rakova, the deputy mayor, said there had been a more than 70% increase in hospital admissions during the past week, and Moscow could run out of beds to treat coronavirus patients in 2-3 weeks, according to Interfax news agency.

Countries around the world have been struggling to battle vaccine hesitancy. But most have stopped short of requiring vaccines, except in limited cases.

The Kremlin has expressed dismay at the slow rate of vaccinations in Russia. President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that only 18 million of Russia’s 144 million people had been vaccinated. Moscow has been exporting doses of its Sputnik V vaccine, even as most Russians have declined to get the shot.

The decree by the city, dated June 15, said managers of enterprises would be required to ensure that at least 60% of employees had received one dose of a vaccine by July 15, and a second dose by Aug. 15 where needed. A mechanism to monitor compliance would be set up by July 1.

TASS news agency quoted a city official, Yevgeny Danchikov, as saying non-compliance could be punished by fines of up to 1 million rubles ($14,000) for repeat offences by businesses. Firms could also be shut down for up to 90 days.

Moscow accounted for 5,782 of Russia’s 13,397 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. There were 75 deaths in the capital from coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours.

Sobyanin said on Saturday Moscow was repurposing thousands of hospital beds for an influx of COVID-19 patients and told residents to stay off work this week to help curb the spread.

Several regions tightened coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday as authorities reported Russia’s largest one-day case tally since February. Over the weekend, St Petersburg, which is hosting matches in the Euro 2020 soccer finals, and Moscow said they were imposing new curbs. –

($1 = 71.8900 rubles)