Soaring cases of COVID-19 and related deaths have prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to approve a Cabinet proposal for a week-long workplace shutdown.
Russia reported a record high 1,028 coronavirus deaths Wednesday over the past 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, boosting the country’s death toll to 226,353, by far the highest in Europe.
Putin said in a televised meeting with government officials that employees would observe “non-working days” from October 30 to November 7, during which they would still receive salaries. He said the period, in which four of the seven days are state holidays, could start earlier or be extended in certain regions.
Daily coronavirus deaths in Russia have been surging for weeks because of sluggish vaccination rates, casual attitudes toward precautionary measures and the government’s hesitancy to tighten restrictions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the outlook is “very sad,” pointing out the vaccination rates in various regions are especially low.
About 32% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, although it was the world’s first country in August 2020 to authorize a coronavirus vaccine and vaccines remain plentiful.
In July, Russia became one of the world’s first countries to launch a revaccination campaign, but the Kremlin said Wednesday Putin has yet to receive a booster shot.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.