Moscow Erases Requiring Proof of COVID Vaccine to Eat Inside at Restaurants After Backlash

On Friday, Moscow authorities rescinded a mandate that restaurants can only allow entry to customers who can prove that they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, recently tested negative or recently recovered from the virus, the Associated Press reported. The government received significant backlash from the order, especially from struggling restaurant owners who implored officials in the Russian capital to cancel it.

The order was in effect since late June and will end on Monday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced. The mandate said restaurant customers had to obtain a QR code from a government website, which would show their health status when scanned, the Associated Press reported.

The loosened restrictions coincide with surging COVID-19 case numbers in Russia and a record high for daily infections on Friday. However, restaurants still in recovery from the initial toll of the pandemic were struggling to stay afloat under the order, the Associated Press reported.

The only exception to the rule was unrestricted outdoor dining, but most Moscow restaurants don't have the space to arrange outside seating.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Russia Restaurants
The city of Moscow announced it was rescinding a mandate that customers show proof of vaccine or wear a mask for inside dining at restaurants. Pictured, people relax after a hot day at an outdoor terrace of a restaurant in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

Sobyanin said that the city reversed the decision because the pace of contagion has slowed.

His statement came on the day Russia registered another record-high daily number of deaths, with the authorities reporting 799 fatalities, including 105 in Moscow.

It was the fourth straight day that the country registered a record number of COVID-19 deaths. Daily new infections in Russia have soared from around 9,000 in early June to more than 25,000 and daily fatalities have been topping 700 since last week.

On Friday, officials reported 25,704 new coronavirus cases, including 5,382 in Moscow.

Officials blamed the surge on Russians' lax attitude toward taking precautions, the growing prevalence of the more contagious delta variant and widespread vaccination hesitancy. The pace of vaccination has remained lower than in many Western countries, and as of Tuesday, 28.6 million Russians -- or just 19.5 percent of the 146 million population -- have received at least one shot of a vaccine.

To speed up vaccine uptake, authorities in nearly 30 Russian regions have made vaccinations mandatory for certain groups of people, including those employed in health care, education, retail, public transport, government offices and services sector.

Moscow's QR-codes requirement for restaurants was also seen as part of efforts to encourage faster vaccination.

Russia's state coronavirus task force has reported more than 5.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a total of 146,868 confirmed deaths in the pandemic. However, reports by Russia's state statistical service Rosstat, which tallies coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively, reveal much higher numbers.

Russia Vaccinations
A medical worker prepares to give an injection of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to an employee of Oleg Sirota's cheese factory in Dubrovskoye village, in Istra district, 51 km. (31,8 miles) west of Moscow, Russia, Thursday, July 15, 2021. Thursday is the deadline the authorities set for eligible companies to ensure that 60% of their staff receive at least one shot of a vaccine. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo