Vladimir Putin is taking his most drastic measures yet to curb the second wave of COVID-19. The Russian president on Tuesday implemented a nationwide mask mandate, as coronavirus cases spike worldwide.
Under the new mandate, effective Wednesday, masks will be mandatory in crowded public spaces, such as public transportation, parking lots and elevators, according to the order published on the website for the federal health watchdog agency Rospotrebnadzor, also known as the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.
The department has also banned all entertainment activities, including bars and restaurants, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. It recommended strengthening safety protocols on public transport, taxis, shops, restaurants and theaters.
People not wearing masks will be refused service in these establishments.
Russia has had over 1,520,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 26,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University. It recorded a record-high number of new cases on Monday, with 17,148, and October has seen more confirmed cases in the country overall than any other month.
Despite the rise in cases, and mounting deaths, authorities not to reimpose strict lockdown measures across the country and declared the pandemic “under control.” Strict, national measures proved effective at slowing the spread of the deadly virus earlier this year, but they have taken a severe toll on both economies and societies.
“Regarding the possibility of severe, total, restrictive measures, we aren’t planning to do this. The government doesn’t have any such plans,” Putin said in televised remarks last week.
“The situation is under control. It is not easy, it is tense, but it is under control,” Dmitry Peskov, the official spokesman for the Kremlin, told reporters on Friday.
The country has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States, India and Brazil. U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to introduce a nationwide mask order, despite the country facing all-time daily highs for confirmed cases, with more than 83,000 reported for two consecutive days in the last week alone.