MOSCOW – Russia is adopting increasingly coercive measures to convince Russians to get vaccinated, as authorities try to revive a shambles vaccination campaign and rush to fend off a wave of Covid-19 cases caused by the more infectious variant Delta.
Local authorities in parts of Russia have made vaccination compulsory for service sector workers, which means millions of workers, from hairdressers to bank tellers, are threatened with unpaid leave if they are not vaccinated.
Restaurants and shops could be closed for months if they do not have 60% of staff vaccinated by mid-July. And since the end of June, only the vaccinated, those who have recovered in the past six months or who have tested negative can enter Moscow restaurants and cafes.
Russians can take one of the four local vaccines for free. The country offers none of the western clichÃ©s.
The surge sparked a backlash against widespread vaccine skepticism in Russia and led to a proliferation of fake online vaccination certificates, authorities said. It comes as Covid-19 cases have increased to over 20,000 a day; deaths have reached a record high. Over 90% of new cases involve the Delta variant. Authorities are also advising people vaccinated more than six months ago to get vaccinated.