A lockdown will take effect in St. Petersburg today amid record-high COVID-19 cases.
Due to Russia’s low vaccination rate — only 30% of the population is vaccinated — daily deaths have reached 1,159, causing the government to order restaurants, cinemas, and libraries to close from October 30 to November 7. Nonessential workers are to remain home for this week-long period.
Putin has been hesitant to issue full lockdown measures because they are unpopular. Instead, he has dubbed the week-long period “countrywide non-working days,” during which businesses are to pay employees. The government has not clarified whether they would fund these paychecks.
Putin has never issued concrete restrictions throughout the pandemic. He rejected vaccine mandates and was hesitant about implementing summertime lockdowns, in a bid to boost his popularity ahead of his September elections. He also has continually delegated COVID-related decisions to local governments, distancing himself from tough restrictions.
In the coming weeks, expect many regional governments to require proof of vaccination to enter certain venues. However, rampant mistrust of the Russian Sputnik V and a lack of Western-supplied vaccines will cause vaccine hesitancy to remain. Rising case numbers and deaths, as a result, are expected to increase political pressure on Putin.
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Ava is an Analyst and regular contributor to the Daily Brief. She focuses on political and economic developments across Latin America and the Caribbean.