Staunton, December 9 – Faced with growing evidence that the owners of bars and restaurants across the country may follow their colleagues in St. Petersburg and ignore New Year’s restrictions on their operations (regnum.ru/news/3136321.html), Moscow has taken two actions to try to suppress the movement in the northern capital.
On the one hand, the authorities have raided bars and restaurants on the list and threatened to close them down; and on the other, government media have put out the word that some supposedly planning to remain open had not in fact made such declarations (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/199167?fccdailystorm.ru/obschestvo/bary-s-karty-soprotivleniya-otkrestilis-ot-protesta-kak-kreml-i-sk-napugali-torgovcev-pivom-i-shaurmoy).
The Russian authorities registered 26,190 new cases of infection and 559 new deaths over the last 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2144). But such data always problematic appears likely to become more so as Kaliningrad became the second region to declare it wouldn’t issue more daily reports lest it spread panic (m.newkaliningrad.ru/short/2020/12/09/23900104.html).
The defense ministry said that because of efforts by the military to stop the spread of the pandemic, infections and presumably deaths among uniformed personnel are 25 percent lower per capita than they are in the civilian population (regnum.ru/news/3136698.html and regnum.ru/news/3136706.html).
The pandemic continued to spread across the country with more regions reporting a deteriorating situation than an improving one (regnum.ru/news/society/3132609.html). And Moscow experts offered little hope for the immediate future: the situation may stabilize or it may get worse but it is unlikely to get better soon, they say (regnum.ru/news/3136473.html).
The vaccination effort continues in Moscow, and it is beginning in the regions (severreal.org/a/30990690.html). Despite promises that getting the vaccine will be voluntary, ever more bosses and officials are demanding their subordinates get the vaccine or lose their jobs (rferl.org/a/get-vaccinated-or-you-re-fired-russian-medics-coerced-to-take-sputnik-v/30990350.html).
Turkey reportedly refused to purchase the Russian vaccine because Moscow has not completed testing on it, but Russian media outlets said that this was not true and that negotiations about a purchase continue between Russian and Turkish agencies (uk.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-turkey-vaccine-idUKKBN28J1U5 and tass.ru/ekonomika/10213577).
Vladimir Putin promised cooperation with all those working to fight the pandemic, and a pro-Kremlin commentator, Sergey Markov, complained that people were attacking the Russian vaccine “only because it is Russian.” That may be understandable abroad, he said; but it is tragic that it is true inside Russia (regnum.ru/news/3136752.html and echo.msk.ru/blog/sergei_markov/2755110-echo/).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Officials admitted that a massive leak of computer data on individual testing in Moscow was the result of human error (t.me/COVID2019_official/2146).
· Moscow officials now acknowledge that re-infection with the coronavirus is possible but rare, something they had been denying (regnum.ru/news/3136857.html).
· Working from home has led many Russians to move out of cities into nearby villages, driving up house prices there significantly (regnum.ru/news/3137111.html).
· Because of the pandemic, the Russian government announced that it will continue its subsidies to domestic air carriers for another two weeks lest they stop moving people from place to place (regnum.ru/news/3137466.html).
· The debate about drinking and getting vaccinated continues, with one of the experts who developed the Sputnik-5 vaccine saying it is enough for Russians to avoid drinking alcohol for six days around the time they get the shots (themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/09/6-days-off-booze-is-enough-for-russias-coronavirus-vaccine-developer-says-a72285).