With Moscow’s hospitals facing unprecedented strain not seen since six months ago, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has done away with antiquated notions of bodily autonomy and free commerce in order to save the city. Please clap.
Muscovites collectively breathed a sigh of relief when Sobyanin announced last month that due to rising Covid hospitalizations, millions of residents would no longer be trusted with making personal medical decisions for themselves. In sectors such as transport, hospitality and leisure, businesses would need to meet a 60% vaccination quota among employees or risk exorbitant fines.
A few days later, the mayor announced the creation of now-defunct ‘Covid-free’ zones for double-dosed VIPs and Covid-conscious residents: Under the short-lived scheme, those who were fully vaccinated, or had recovered from the virus over the past 6 months, or were able to produce a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours, were eligible to receive a QR code granting them exclusive access to indoor seating in bars and restaurants. Those without these health IDs — the lepers — were banished to outdoor seating areas.
When he unveiled this pioneering public health policy last month, Sobyanin had insisted that the digital health passes would be “necessary to keep people alive.” But starting from July 19 they will no longer be required. They never really caught on and, as a result, nearly 200 businesses in Moscow closed in under 3 weeks.