Staunton, April 23 – Vladimir Putin explains his decision to give Russians 11 days off over the May holidays by a desire to limit the risk of a new spike in coronavirus cases, but many medical experts say he really wanted to boost his political rating and perhaps give Russians time to be vaccinated (kremlin.ru/events/president/news/65436 and ura.news/articles/1036282219).
But some Russians are unhappy with the decision which won’t involve a new lockdown and may thus spread the disease rather than limit it even as they fear more days off will have a negative impact on economic recovery (7x7-journal.ru/articles/2021/04/24/ocherednoj-podarok-byudzhetnikam-pochemu-ne-vse-rossiyane-odobrili-ukaz-putina-o-majskih-vyhodnyh, regnum.ru/news/3251730.html and https://regnum.ru/news/3251836.html).
(Immediately after Putin’s order, St. Petersburg governor Aleksandr Beglov whose city remains a hotspot called for allowing vaccinations to continue even during the 11-day vacation (regnum.ru/news/3251672.html).)
Consumer affairs chief Anna Popova, who asked for the extended holidays said that the situation with the virus may in fact get worse in coming weeks and said she has ordered expanded efforts to monitor the infection and vaccination status of people coming in from abroad (https://regnum.ru/news/3251757.html).
Today, Russian officials reported registering 8840 new cases of infection and 398 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, continuing Russia as a whole on a plateau even though some regions are seeing spikes and others declines (t.me/COVID2019_official/2819 and regnum.ru/news/society/3250801.html).
The situation in St. Petersburg is particularly dire, with new cases up 15 percent this month over last, but in most other places, any rise has been less than that. Given Moscow’s efforts to promote vaccinations in the Northern capital, the rise is truly worrisome (regnum.ru/news/3252123.html).
Moscow has agreed to reopen flights to and from Egypt and to make it easier for citizens of 29 countries to travel to Russia. They will no longer be restricted to flights either from their home countries or their places of residents but can come in from anywhere (stoletie.ru/lenta/rossija_i_jegipet_dogovorilis_polnostju_vozobnovit_aviasoobshhenije_892.htm and confidencegroup.ru/default.aspx?sid=71&fd_login-form=1&language=en-US).
Russian health officials said that they have registered cases of the British strain of the virus but not those of the Indian strain (https://ria.ru/20210423/koronavirus-1729618386.htmlhttps://regnum.ru/news/3251082.html).
On the vaccination front, the military is giving more shots to uniformed personnel but the rate of increase has fallen sharply over the last two weeks (regnum.ru/news/3252122.html). Moscow has opened vaccination points in four more shopping centers in hopes of getting people to get their shots (regnum.ru/news/3251508.html).
And on the economic front, Russian airlines lost almost 200 billion rubles (three billion US dollars) last year, according to a trade group (regnum.ru/news/3251401.html). And new data show that while most Russians saw their incomes fall during the pandemic year, the majority of Duma deputies saw theirs remain at the same level or even increase (dailystorm.ru/vlast/bolshinstvo-deputatov-gosdumy-za-vremya-pandemii-uvelichili-ili-sohranili-svoy-dohod).