Moscow To Reopen Schools Next Week, Extends Other Coronavirus Curbs

MOSCOW — Moscow authorities have extended restrictions against COVID-19 for another week, with the exception of pupils returning to schools from January 18.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin made the announcement in a blog post on his website on January 14, warning that “if just a single coronavirus case is detected, the entire class will have to temporarily shift to distance learning.”

Sobyanin wrote that all other restrictions have been extended until January 21, with universities, colleges, and other educational facilities remaining on remote learning or on holiday breaks until that date.

Other restrictions include bars and restaurants having to close early, the wearing of medical masks in shops and on public transport, and businesses having to limit the number of staff in offices.

Russia, which last month launched a voluntary vaccination program with the locally developed Sputnik V vaccine, has resisted imposing a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Sobyanin said Moscow’s vaccination program was “gaining momentum,” with several thousand Muscovites being inoculated daily.

But the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals remained high — more than 13,000 — meaning that only a gradual reduction in restrictions was possible, the mayor said.

As of January 13, Russian health authorities reported 22,850 new coronavirus cases, including 4,320 in Moscow, taking the total tally to more than 3,470,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The nationwide death toll stood at over 63,300, but the figure is believed to be much higher.