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Russia declares non-working days on Oct 30-Nov 7 as COVID rates soar

The regional authorities are free to declare other non-working days starting from October 23

MOSCOW, October 20. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported the government’s decision to declare non-working days from October 30 to November 7 in light of the unfavorable epidemiological trends. The regions where the situation is the worst may do so earlier, starting from October 23.

At a meeting with government members on Wednesday, Putin urged support for businesses, which during the non-working days will be losing 4 billion rubles a day. Also, he addressed made an address to the Russian public: "We have only two ways of getting through this period - to experience the illness or to be vaccinated. It is better to be vaccinated than to wait for the disease and its serious effects."

Non-working days and other measures

October 30 through November 7 will be paid non-working days. The regional authorities are free to declare other non-working days starting from October 23, if need be.

Testing for coronavirus must be expanded, with Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova saying that it would be appropriate to step up testing drastically in contrast to the standard rate of 200 tests per 100,000 residents.

Also, she called for expanding the use of QR-codes confirming proof of vaccination or recovery from the illness for those visiting public places, tightening anti-epidemiological measures on transport and restricting public events and the operation of public catering outlets from 23:00 till 06:00.

Golikova asked Russians to refrain from trips to other regions so as not to aggravate the epidemiological situation. She mentioned no restrictions in this respect, though.

Requirements for regions, assistance to businesses

At the meeting Putin put forward a number of demands addressed to the government and regional authorities. The Cabinet of Ministers is obliged to monitor the availability of medicines and medical oxygen on the daily basis.

The government is to provide support for businesses, which, according to Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov will be losing 4 billion rubles a day during the non-working period.

Starting from November 15 small and medium businesses in the affected branches of the economy may begin to be paid grants of one minimum wage per employee. "This will compensate for about half of the missing revenues in the affected industries," Belousov said.

Businesses will be entitled to low-interest loans at an annual rate of 3% again. Such a measure was already used once in March-July 2021. Loans will be extended on the condition that the employer refrains from layoffs.

Putin urged the regional authorities to avoid distorting medical statistics: "Understating rates and making the picture look better than it really should be avoided at all cost."

Also, the president invited the participants in the session to give thought to using more widely the practice of granting employees two paid days off following the vaccination. "Two days spent at home will do them good," he said.

Coronavirus situation

COVID infection rates in Russia are getting worse mostly because vaccination rates are too low and restrictive measures are often neglected. Over the past week alone the infection rate across the nation was up 15.5% and in 35 regions it is above the national average.

Of the 276,500 hospital beds reserved for covid patients in Russia 86.6% are already in use. In 27 regions (approximately one in three) more than 90% of such beds are occupied.