Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he supports a proposal to introduce paid non-working days across the country from October 30 to November 7 in an effort to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Local authorities can launch the days off earlier or extend them if necessary, Xinhua news agency quoted Putin as saying on Wednesday during a government meeting.
The proposal was made by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova on Tuesday and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called it “a necessary measure”.
Putin said on Wednesday he supports the Cabinet’s proposal to introduce a nonworking period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the following week, when four of seven days already are state holidays. He added in some regions where the situation is the most threatening, the non-working period could start as early as Saturday.
Russia is experiencing its toughest period since the pandemic began, with daily new infections and coronavirus-related deaths repeatedly hitting record highs.
According to the country’s official monitoring and response centre, Russia confirmed 34,073 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 8,094,825.
In some regions, mounting infections forced authorities to suspend medical assistance to the population as health care facilities were forced to focus on treating coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, while the nationwide death toll grew by a record daily increase of 1,028 to 226,353.
Even though Russia in August 2020 became the first country in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine and vaccines are plentiful, Russians have shown hesitancy about getting the shots, a skepticism blamed on conflicting signals sent by authorities.
While extolling Sputnik V and three other domestic vaccines, state-controlled media were often critical of Western-made shots, a controversial message that many saw as feeding public doubts about vaccines in general.
Until now, the Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one early on in the pandemic that dealt a heavy blow to the economy and sapped Putin’s popularity, empowering regional authorities across the country’s 11 time zones to decide on local restrictions, depending on their situation.
(With IANS inputs)