(June 17, 2021) Because of the worsening epidemiological situation in Russia, the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the two largest Russian cities having the legal status of a constituent component of a federation (equivalent to a state in the United States) have introduced new restrictions on businesses and services. The mayor of Moscow ordered that the public holiday celebrating Russia’s Independence Day be extended beyond June 12 to encompass an entire week, making the period of June 12–19 a paid nonwork week for all nonfederal businesses and enterprises located in Moscow. During this week, businesses and enterprises that are usually open during public holidays will be operating on a Sunday schedule. In addition, nonfederal employers are required to transfer to telework all employees who are older than 65, have underlying health conditions, and make up no less than 30% of the remaining staff.
The Moscow mayor’s decree also provides that, during the independence celebration week, work at food courts, zoos, and other establishments visited by families and children is to be halted, and bars, restaurants, and nightclubs must remain closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Additionally, the mayor’s office confirmed that rules mandating the wearing of face masks and hand gloves on public transportation remain in place and will be vigorously enforced. Educational institutions, including colleges and universities, will be operating online only, and students will be able to pass their exams remotely. Among the newly introduced restrictions is a ban on the use of playgrounds and sport facilities in city parks and of benches on streets and boulevards. Reportedly, violations of this ban will be punishable by a fine equal to approximately US$50. However, the mayor’s office explained that this ban does not apply to local playgrounds enclosed in residential areas. These urgently introduced measures apply to the June 12–19 period.
Similar restrictions were introduced in St. Petersburg. Occupancy norms for public places were lowered from 75% to 50%, and no more than 3,000 people can now participate in open-air events. This rule applies to soccer fans attending European soccer cup matches hosted in this city. All fans at stadiums are required to wear masks, and the sale of food is prohibited at the stadiums.
Individual regions outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg are also enhancing their local anti-Covid-19 measures and banning mass gatherings at least for the next month.
At the same time, with the purpose of lowering the impact of coronavirus infections in the country and slowing down the virus’s cross-border transmission, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree extending through September the duration of the ban on the deportation of foreigners who are illegally present in Russia. Foreign citizens from the Eurasian Economic Union member states can work in Russia during the same period regardless of their original reason for visiting the country. The same presidential decree suspended the counting of time to be applied toward the registration of migrants and the length of their stay in the country, as well as the validation of immigration documents and labor permits for guest workers. The period of June 16–December 31, 2021, will not be counted toward the expiration of a migrant’s legal status in Russia. These measures do not apply to those foreign citizens and stateless individuals who are released from Russian prisons, have violated Russian border regulations, or pose a threat to the national security of Russia.