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Now you need a “Covid pass” to visit Moscow’s restaurants and bars

As the Covid-19 pandemic rises again in Russia, President Vladimir Putin is using Israel as an example to prevent millions of residents from entering bars and restaurants without vaccinations or proof of recovery from illness.

But considering Russia’s hostility to vaccines before the crucial election, he no longer compulsory vaccination nationwide.

“Damn it!” On a recent night, a 26-year-old man swore that his name was Nikolai because the staff refused him to enter a bar in the center of Moscow. Finally he ordered a glass of beer and sat sullenly on the table outside the meeting place in the rain. The city government has allowed the summer terrace to receive all customers, but only on July 12.

The Russian capital began on Monday to require residents to show QR codes to prove that they have been vaccinated, recently tested negative or have recovered from the virus before they can enter bars and restaurants. So far, they have issued only 2.5 million passes to 12 million people. A senior official said the city may expand the system to shops, entertainment venues and public transportation.

Other regions have also enacted strict regulations to force people to take action. The QR system is also in effect in the wider Moscow region with a population of approximately 8 million.

Russia recently reported that in the new wave of infections, the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 hit a record high, which overwhelmed hospitals and pushed up the daily number of new cases to more than 20,000, which is since January The highest level. The highly contagious delta variant first discovered in India is largely responsible for the virus’s resurgence, and it has raised concerns about undermining Russia’s fragile economic recovery.

Putin defended these measures on Wednesday, warning in his annual television “direct-dial phone” that the new system is the only way to avoid a nationwide blockade.

Low vaccine rate

Although Russia was one of the first countries to announce mass vaccination, in the face of widespread public suspicion about its four domestic vaccines, only about 10% of the population was fully vaccinated.that Compare About 35% of EU residents, 47% are in the United States, and half are in the United Kingdom.

Arthur Caplan, professor of medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine, said: “During the pandemic, dangerous new strains are spreading, and it makes sense to try to protect citizens.” “Authorities can indeed be in public places. Mandatory vaccination. This is a restriction on freedom, but you can choose not to get vaccinated. It just limits where you can go.”

Russia’s policies reflect growing concerns about encouraging vaccinations in other parts of the world. The European Union has introduced a digital certificate that allows free travel within 27 member states and provides proof of vaccination, evidence of recent recovery from Covid-19, or negative test results.

In many countries/regions, Covid-19 testing is becoming more accessible and inexpensive or free as part of a strategy to quickly restart economic activity. In Russia, testing is still expensive.

In Israel, the government introduced a “green passport” earlier this year to restrict people who have been vaccinated and cured of Covid from entering the entertainment area, but Putin has left it to local officials to enforce restrictions and issue orders, requiring millions of states to face Employees and workers of consumer companies are vaccinated.

“There are many people who are firmly opposed to vaccination,” said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Moscow Center for Political Technology. “This is a very unpopular question.”

According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the independent Levada Center, Russia will hold parliamentary elections in September, and the ruling party’s approval rate is 27%, the lowest level since 2013.

Igor Bukharov, head of the Russian Federation of Restaurant and Hotel Owners, said that for restaurant owners, these regulations seem to be a blockade.

Some restaurants lost 80% or more of their income. Unlike last year, when companies that were temporarily closed received help from their employees, there was only limited state help.

Bukharov said that the crowded summer terraces in the Russian capital are the lifeblood of approximately 3,000 of the city’s 15,000 restaurants with outdoor spaces. The owners hope that the QR code exemption will be extended beyond July 12.

-With the assistance of Alex Sazonov.

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